The God Story2:12 AM
Transcript of my graduation speech
I’ve been planning this speech since my sophomore year, so I’m going to use up my entire five minutes.
A few months ago a Mr. Toplitt contacted me about my “unique” story, how I was homeschooled since first grade and despite that accomplished all I did the following twelve years. He wanted me to write an essay sharing this “unique” story. I couldn’t quite understand what was so “unique” about this life story; I guess homeschoolers are fascinating pieces of fantasy in some parts of the world, but I wrote something up and sent it in and made him happy. I talked about how I’d started as a shy girl with a monomania for certain subjects at certain times in my life—everything from rodents to theology to English literature—and then went on to move outside my comfort zone. I talked about all my accomplishments and activities and how I wanted to change the world and the power of one person and on and on and on about how I did all I did.
But when I look back at the essay, I realize how hollow it is—how shallow that story is—how it failed to capture what truly went on in those twelve years of homeschooling. My “unique” story isn’t about me and my trophies and my glory. It’s about a God who took one girl and shaped her into a vessel for His glory.
This is a God story.
Despite oft-propagated beliefs on my alleged intelligence and talents, I really am nothing. I really am. There is a hole inside of me, a hole that needs to be filled with the fullness of hope and a future before I can even begin to function. The stacks and stacks of books on gerbils and pet rats and guinea pigs didn’t fill it. The hundreds and hundreds of scribbled notebook pages didn’t fill it. The hours and hours spent solving the world’s problems didn’t fill it. I’ve always been passionate, but I never had a fixed goal that stood unchanged, even if my interests did.
I wanted to change the world. I wanted to set the world on fire. I wanted my life to matter. And as I grew older, I found out the world didn’t want to be changed, even though it desperately needed to. It wanted to be a dead, cold mass. It wanted to squelch the flame of those who despise the small days and wait for something big.
But “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for an salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).
This is what I’m living for now. This is what drives me and fills me. This is what God has prepared me for, ever since I spent my entire six-year-old existence reading on a couch. The fingerprints of His mercy, His grace, His love and His plan stand out so clearly as I graduate today. The people He brought into my life—the experiences I’ve had—the lessons I’ve learned—even the curriculum I used and the books I’ve read—they all line up into this amazing God story of inexpressible living hope.
I am so thankful for my parents, my mom and my dad, who labored to create this space where souls could meet God, where lives could be changed for the glory of Christ Jesus. Mom, you sacrificed everything for that one dream. There’s an old home video of me throwing a tantrum over an English lesson, and I know that wasn’t the first or last time that happened, so thank you for clinging to that dream and not giving up even when I wasn’t fully on your side. God definitely was, and I am the product of your answered prayers.
I am thankful for my siblings, who were the guinea pigs for most of my weird ideas—all the plays staged in the living room and movies filmed in the woods and devotions held on my bed. You guys know what I’m talking about. I’m so excited to see God form this living hope in you, too, and I love you all—Chase, Christian, Bethany, Hannah, Sarah, Joshua, Daniel and Caroline.
I am thankful for my amazing church family who has supported me, prayed for me and allowed me free reign to serve. Much of my “unique” story took place among this group of amazing people.
I’m also thankful for this homeschool group and all the support and opportunities and adoration I get from you all. You guys are the best.
Today starts a new chapter in the God story. Today I want to start out a life that is marked by radical devotion to Jesus, wherever that takes me. People always ask me what I want to do after high school, and so I thought it fitting to share the dream God’s given me: I want to be a record-keeper of the mercies, the blessings and the awesomeness of God. I want to live my life as an open book, a testament of His grace. I want to somehow harness everything God’s done, this entire God story, and put it into words. Sometimes I wonder if in heaven there will be openings for poets to write hymns of praise or historians to record all that God has done or writers to try to capture the majesty of God and the wonder of His works. If there is, I want to start now, today, trying to express the inexpressible, and I’m going to borrow Paul’s words: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”