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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Friday, June 14, 2024
The Echo

Navigating Life’s Mountains and Valleys: Encouragement for the Graduating Class

Whether you’re a graduating senior or just wrapping up exams with further semesters on the horizon, you’re likely feeling different emotions right now. Seniors are probably feeling an intense mix of joy, anticipation, anxiety, eagerness, and a little impatience. These emotions are understandable, and many of us feel this way at hinge moments like graduation.

I used to believe that life involved a series of chapters, each with a dominant theme. One chapter might be about challenges and disappointment, while the next would be about redemption and joy. I suppose I bought into an American Dream-like version of the Gospel that thought things were on an upward trajectory even if there were bumps or roadblocks along the way. But it turns out that’s not the way it works. The Christian life is sort of like “two tracks” that run parallel through the mountains and valleys of life. Often, we experience both blessing and burden, peace and turmoil at the same time, but in different ways.

As a Taylor student, all in one day you might have experienced the simple joy of spending time with friends at the Stu, followed by the frustration of getting a lower grade than you expected on a test. You might have felt anxiety about asking your crush on a pick-a-date and experienced either elation or disappointment depending on their response.

Over the last four years, our campus has been blessed in many ways. Our student-athletes have broken records left and right and continued to raise our profile even higher. We’ve seen record growth in student enrollment and endowed scholarships, and we are deeply excited about the future of our beloved Taylor.

But the last four years at Taylor have also brought challenges. Despite our best efforts, our campus isn’t isolated from the political divisiveness so prevalent in the wider culture. If you’re a graduating senior, you missed a lot due to COVID-19. Most unthinkably, the Taylor community was grieved by the deaths of multiple beloved community members.

As we reflect on the last four years at Taylor and look forward to wherever God is calling us next, what are we to do in light of these two, simultaneous tracks of the Christian life?

The Book of I Peter was written for Christians living in the crucible—a crucible in which we experience joys and pains simultaneously. Peter writes his epistle to those who are “grieved by various trials,” reminding them of the hope we have in Christ and emphasizing how that hope, grounded in the reality of Jesus’s resurrection, gives us the confidence to respond to trials with Christ-like grace and truth.

My prayer is that whether you’re a graduating senior or an incoming first-year student, you would experience the blessings of being part of the extended Taylor family as we carry the burdens of one another through intentional community.

Michael Lindsay is President of Taylor University and Professor of Sociology.