Graduation Celebrations Can Test One’s Character
By Dan Blankenship
Once again, graduation celebrations are about to take place; there will be backyards, banquet halls, and, in some cases, barns decorated with balloons, streamers, and poster boards. Graduation is an exciting time for the achiever, a time to revel in past successes while contemplating future challenges. But the future always brings tough situations to deal with, and finding oneself at a graduation party that is slightly over the edge is a very common occurrence.
Having found myself at a few graduation parties (both as a teen and adult) that definitely crossed the line legally and morally, I can offer a few suggestions about how to handle such predicaments:
• Do not be afraid to just leave! If a party hall is serving alcohol to minors, filled with cigarette smoke, or supporting any activity which contradicts your moral or ethical standards, it is time to go. Leaving this party will not, I repeat not, end your future chances at becoming a success in your chosen career.
• If you think the party is not necessarily violating any laws but you believe that some at the party may not be the kind of people you want to be in the company of, well then you must use your best judgment to decide if this is a party you want to be at. I would suggest avoiding the crowd who you see as a bit extreme. But remember that if people lacking a bit of character in their lives run across others, such as yourself, who seem to have a “grip” on stateliness and are not dependent on a showboating personality, a positive seed can be planted.
• Be polite if you decide to leave a graduation party that doesn’t “feel right.” Do not reprimand the host. Simply explain that you feel uncomfortable in the environment and that you are happy for the host’s achievement. More often than not the host will understand and support your decision.
• If you at a party where underage drinking is part of the celebration, as difficult as this is going to be, you should not only leave the festivities but should call the proper authorities as soon possible. The last thing a high school graduate needs is a DUI conviction added to his resume. And studies show where underage drinking and driving is concerned, the sooner the authorities break-up the illegal party the sooner tragedy can be avoided.
• If you know a party that you have been invited to is going to consist of elements that contradict your values, decline the invitation as soon as possible. There is usually more than one invite headed to your mailbox. Go to celebrations where you will not be expected to partake in festivities that go well beyond a true celebration of achievement. The same discipline and character that allowed the celebrating students to receive their diplomas should rule the day as they honor their achievements.
Ultimately, the best way to make decisions concerning graduation celebrations is to think about how God would view your decisions. It is hard to let your light shine amongst a crowd of people committed to embracing darkness. And my suggestions above are based on my personal decisions as a teenager and an adult. As you contemplate what kind of graduation celebration you would like to have or attend, it is always best to pray for wisdom from the Creator. It is hard to end up on the wrong path when we first seek guidance from the One who created the narrow and correct path.
“For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25 NRSV
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This is an excellent and timely piece. I trust that your wisdom and good advice will be heeded and that graduates everywhere will proceed to have a safe and festive celebration. I sense that this is a subject that is really close to your heart. You’ve expressed your care and concern now we can also pray that it will be received in the spirit of love. God bless you.