It’s June! University and college seniors are gearing up for the end of an era. Commencement ceremonies bring a host of mixed feelings as graduates celebrate, leave behind cherished friendships and take different paths to future endeavours.
Graduation can seem stressful even though it’s intended to be a joyful time. Graduates are being challenged to put their degrees to work in a world where the job market seems unsure and graduate placements unattainable – all amid feelings of being overwhelmed in this time of significant social change.
Post Commencement Stress Disorder (PCSD) is a term coined of late to describe the symptoms affecting new graduates when they leave the comforting bubble of the academic world.
Self-doubt, tinged however with optimism, is fuelled by feeling our abilities are defined by a piece of paper – the result of lectures, exams and successful marks; or, by a job market that is subject to a wide variety of human influences. But our experience needn’t feel so limited and our future can be more secure if we understand and acknowledge the spiritual source from which our talents and abilities come and by which all aspects of our lives are governed.
The Bible has accounts of people who were unsure of their future, but still found purpose and fulfillment through their trust in God’s goodness and guidance. One example is Joseph – sold into slavery and wrongfully imprisoned. But he won the favour of Pharaoh and eventually, through his faith in God’s direction, Joseph saved Egypt and the surrounding nations from starvation during famine. Each step he took defied the human circumstances with Divine power and was a building block to his ultimate success and a blessing for so many.
My post-commencement career path was one of similar building blocks.
I graduated with great excitement, ready to launch into a career – except no one was willing to hire me since all I had was a general arts degree. I placed numerous résumés with companies – to no avail. My dormitory was closing for the term and I had only a week left to find a job and a place to live – or return home, jobless.
As with all my challenges faced though school years, I turned to the spiritual grounding I received in Sunday School. Near my dormitory was a Christian Science Reading Room and I decided one day to take some time for prayer and Bible study in this quiet spiritual refuge, which is available to anyone.
My study yielded this biblical promise: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jer 29:11 NRSV) Looking to the unchanging nature of the Divine and my relationship to Him was a remedy for my feeling of worthlessness and insignificance. My true abilities did not originate in me, but were mine by reflection. I wanted to put into practice the talents I already possessed as God’s beloved child. And, I felt sure that He, not economic circumstances, governed the universe.
When I returned to the dorm that day, just as I was getting off the elevator, I was told there was a phone call for me. It was a job offer! I gladly accepted. However, somewhat like Joseph, it was not a very good job. I was over-educated for the position, and the working conditions were far from pleasant. But I was sure I was under God’s guidance and, also like Joseph, did the best I knew how each day.
A month into the job, the Manager of the facility came by my station and, in conversation, found out I was bilingual. The next day I was placed in the office doing French correspondence. Two weeks later, he arranged for a job interview at the company’s headquarters, which opened up a fulfilling and challenging career for me.
Fortuitous circumstances you may think? I have had too many such blessings not to acknowledge that God and His goodness are governing me at all times.
We all have talents and abilities that are God-given; they are ours by reflection. As many of us launch into new opportunities – be it a graduate program, a career or homemaking – we can be grounded on the sure foundation of a loving Father, God, sustaining us each step of the way.
This article can be read in Metroland Media news sites. Read here in DurhamRegion.com