On Sunday night, several of our Coastal Community Church families gathered to celebrate the graduation of three special Virginia Beach seniors. They go to different schools, vary wildly in their hobbies and interests, and the main thing they have in common is their parents have studied the Bible together every other Sunday for several years.
Clearly, they are thrilled we are making them participate.
As parents, members of a church small group, and fellow Christ-followers, we wanted to provide a Rite of Passage to express our pride in them, our hopes for their future, and to mark the occasion of their arrival into adulthood. Although they have different birth orders, talents, interests and circles of friends, we wanted to provide an intentional memory for them–no matter how awkward– where they would see there are more people who have their back than they even know.
After a yummy buffet of barbeque & fixin’s, our host gave them “Seats of Honor” and the parents said a few words. Here is what I read to Beth:
Before you were born, you kept changing directions. This is normal early on when a baby isn’t taking up much room, but once the time draws closer to birth, there is an optimal way for the baby to take position. You had other plans. In other words, it wasn’t easy but you made it out okay.
Watching you grow through the years has been a delight and at times an exhausting adventure. You bring joy and humor to our family and you are a great example of diligence, attention to detail, and a strong work ethic. You have had to grow up early in many ways and you have made some difficult yet wise decisions that will bear fruit in the years to come.
We named you Elisabeth taking your Aunt Laura’s middle name –with an “S” instead of a “Z” because you are a unique individual who does not fit into a mold.
Whitney, Aunt Laura and Beth in 2010
Dansby we chose for your middle name to honor your great grandmother “Mimi” who was a lighthouse to her family and community, a hard worker, and a somewhat irreverent but faithful and loving woman who highly valued her family.
Mimi’s 90th birthday –Beth is the baby “in arms” over Mimi’s R shoulder.
You were born the week that both Mother Teresa and Lady Diana, the Princess of Wales passed away. It struck me then as it does now that the celebration of your arrival brought hope for our world upon the departure of these two amazing ladies.
I want to share a quote from each of these ladies, one very rich, and one very poor, but both with many characteristics worth emulating:
“I think the biggest disease the world suffers from in this day and age is the disease of people feeling unloved. “ ~Lady Diana Spencer
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” Mother Teresa
The verse that I want to share with you is a tutorial about love from 1st Corinthians:
“Love is patient. Love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
It is not proud, it is not rude.
It is not self-seeking, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things endures all things.
Love never fails.
Now these three things remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”
Now that you are a young lady, an official adult, and a high school graduate-to-be, you have much more control over your “birth” into the world than you did as an infant. You are focused, practical, and wise beyond your years. You may change directions, as you did in the womb, or you may know exactly what you want to do and move towards that goal with lightning speed. It is up to you. We have done our best to shelter you, teach you and bring you safely to this point. We now believe your future is in your hands. We will always be here to support you, cheer you on, and love you. You have experienced heartache that many will never comprehend, and your victories have mostly been silent ones without a crowd of cheering onlookers.
This is what brings me to today. There may not be an auditorium filled with peers hanging on your every word, or thousands of Instagram followers loving your every selfie, but please never doubt and always remember, you have influence. You have power. You are irreplaceable. You are a dangerous woman, with a pack of supportive fans praying you forward.