Dear Class of 2020
Updated: Sep 3, 2020
Dear Class of 2020,
I’m so sorry this happened to you. Telling you that others have been through worse is like telling someone that their migraine shouldn’t hurt because someone else’s brain tumor hurts worse. At the end of the day, pain is pain. There is nothing you did to cause this and nothing you could have done to prevent it. To make matters worse, even if we could give you back all of your ceremonies, trips, parties, and proms at some later time, you wouldn’t want them. These were markers of a specific moment that has passed. I’m really sorry for that.
But there are two things you need to know.
First, this probably won’t be the worst thing that ever happens to you. I know that that sounds cruel, but it’s true. Life sometimes sucker punches you. I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you this. The adults in your life who care about you have been trying to hide this truth from you for as long as they could. Now you know why everyone in you life tried to get you to get an education, save money, make friends, and eat healthily, and so on. Education, savings, a supportive social circle, and health can’t stop life from punching, but they will soften the blows. It’s the best we can give you.
Please understand that as an adult, you will meet others for whom the quarantine doesn’t even crack their top ten list of pain they’ve faced. My prayer is that this time makes you more tender and compassionate toward them. As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby, “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone . . . just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.” Don’t let this time make you resentful; let it make you sympathetic. Don’t feel guilty for these advantages, but instead use them to pull someone else up.
The second thing you need to know is that you were put on this earth to glorify God by making the world a better place for your fellow humans. I know that sounds so limiting, but within this structure are limitless possibilities. The world needs honest mechanics, caring hairdressers, creative teachers, and compassionate doctors. You were given blessings and abilities to make the world a better place. What have you got? A good memory? A mechanical mind? The ability to connect well to others? A supportive family? A teacher willing to go the extra mile for you? Sheer determination? What did God give you that He didn’t seem to give those around you? The answer is a big clue to how you can make the world a better place.
That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy success. In fact, your success is often a foundation for helping the world around you. The plumber with lots of clients can afford to not charge the single mom after hours fees when her garbage disposal is backing up. The profitable dentist can afford to travel all over the world to give dental cleanings to people who have never seen a toothbrush. The plastic surgeon for all of Hollywood can afford to spend her weekends repairing the faces of burn victims. Modern Christianity has assumed a tandem relationship between service and success. It’s a false dichotomy. I would love to see the next generation set the record straight on this one.
So there it is. The best compass I can give you for finding your way in a world that we have no idea what will look like a year from now. But I believe in you, Class of 2020. I believe this quarantine will restore in you a resiliency and a desire to help you fellow humans that no lecture, YouTube video or speech ever could. I can’t wait to see what you do now.
Congratulations Class of 2020.
Remember, love God, serve others and take care of yourself.