Wow! This COVID-19 virus is wreaking havoc with plans all over the world. People have died. Workers are displaced. Some companies may not survive an extended shutdown. Serious stuff is going on.
On an individual level, long-planned trips are being cancelled; weddings were re-scheduled; and celebrations of all sorts are on hold.
Perhaps one of the most affected groups will be the Class of 2020. Whether high school or college, graduation ceremonies are just the tip of the iceberg. Senior proms, trips, and saying goodbye to close friends may cut deeper than any ceremony.
Earlier this week, I saw a young couple getting out of their car near Washington's Tidal Basin. Dressed in their prom finery, they probably planned to get pictures in front of the iconic blossoming cherry trees. It made me a little sad knowing this replaced what should have been a once-in-a-lifetime night.
Way back in 1977, my senior year got upended by a fuel crisis. Many Ohio schools shut down for several weeks due to a natural gas shortage and extreme cold spell. Now, barely a blip on the historical radar screen, many events were cancelled and our senior year was disrupted. We eventually returned to school, but sports seasons were abbreviated, extra-circular activities were changed/eliminated, and teachers tried to cram too much content into too few class sessions. In the end, we graduated on time, but many of us felt like we were cheated out of important parts of our senior year.
World War II
As much of an upset as the events of 1977 turned out to be, my mother (shown above) faced entirely much worse circumstances as she launched into adulthood. World War II broke out around the world. As the men went off to war in the 1940s, she eventually took a job in the steel mills of Gary, Indiana. Working in the electrical shop, she found her passion and a lifelong career in electronics once the war ended. Although she didn't stay long as a Rosie the Riveter type, that part of her experience helped to shape the rest of her life - getting her into a field that was dominated by men back then. Finally, her patriotism led her to become a nurse in the Navy's WAVE Corps. After an accelerated 6-week training course, she was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Station.
During her time in the Service, she met my Dad and got married. So, this twist and turn in her life led her to a husband she would have around until his death in 1990. Although chaotic, difficult at times, and challenging, the war altered the course of her life for the better.
Although I wouldn't have selected the energy shortage of 1977 to mess up my senior year, I'm glad it happened the way it did. I learned several important lessons about the world and taking advantage of changes in direction. When we came back to school, I had to pick between playing tennis on my high school team or being in the high school musical. I'd invested much time in singing and choir through my school years. I enjoyed music very much, but tennis was my first love. I'd started playing before puberty and couldn't imagine not playing my senior year on the school team. So, tennis became my choice. If I'd have been as committed to drama/singing, who knows if I would have tried to do more with it in college and beyond. Instead, I ended up in business.
My Mom wouldn't have chosen to be born in the great depression or to have her life interrupted by a major world war. But it happened. She found her life's work and a husband through the ordeals of her youth.
Keep Your Eyes Open
To the class of 2020, I'd just say: don't be too bummed by the trouble that you are living through in your senior year. No one would have chosen a major pandemic, but you will survive and some good may come of it. Learn the positive lessons and hold tight to the people you love. Keep your eyes open. You may just see a future that you might have missed without this momentary upheaval. Life keeps moving and today is no different.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths," (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Check out my latest book, Exercise Your Faith. In it, I examine 31 lies that cause men to stumble. If you know someone who is struggling in life, now is a good time to send them this book as a gift. It's written in an easy-to-read, conversational style that will engage even those who don't read a lot.
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