I’d love to title this post how to survive releasing two books, a wedding and a grad party, but I fell apart in the middle of it physically, spiritually, well, in just about every way.
I had a wise friend (and a 2015 graduate) give me tips on graduation, specifically, the party, and here’s what we did. We didn’t just survive, but had a great time.
- We had our party the day before actual graduation. It was a risk because it was Memorial Day weekend, but we had two things going for us: family was in town for graduation anyway, and we were so early into party season we avoided grad party burnout. I think our guests did as well.
2. We had a basket of envelopes for guests to write their mailing address on. Our wise friend said she had not done this, and it took her a lot of time to track addresses down. Our graduate wrote a personal note asking for the addresses so he could write a personal thanks.
3. Three words. Dollar Tree/Pinterest. Pinterest gave us the idea to hand out favors of Nerds and Smarties, LOL. Make sure you physically hand them out. We left them on the gift table and no one had any. Pinterest also gave us the idea of the grad hat card box. My mom made it and it was a huge hit.
Dollar Tree was like Christmas for my husband. When I ordered the balloons, he couldn’t believe it. “You ordered them for $1 each?” “And they fill them with helium?” Yes and Yes. They also had all the tablecloths, decorations and was across the street from our party when we needed something fast. Sam’s provided a lot of the paper products. It was a sundae bar, so it was easy to serve and clean up.
We also didn’t have it at the house. We live 30 minutes from church and our friend said it is easier to have it at a place on church property. It’s not far for people to travel and you don’t have to worry about your house. I never thought we’d be as busy as we were, so this worked so well. It was a modest fee and they did all the set up and take down.
We provided disc golf, bocce, and we were loaned corn hole for outdoor fun. Our son loves board games, so the centerpieces were board games on every table with a placeholder of his pictures through the years with trivia about him on the back, all laminated.
I’m the worst with decorations but I had a lot of help hanging things. Pinterest to the rescue with making the balloons fancy. We printed pictures of our grad through the years and stapled them to the balloon strings. It really looked festive. Make sure your paper isn’t too heavy, though.
That’s it. Soak it in and enjoy. It’s a huge achievement and you want to remember it.
I’d love to hear how your graduation went.
I was new to town, new to the state.
My dad had recently passed away, our daughter nearly passed away but was chronically ill.
My husband had a new job, our son, a new school.
I sat in the Sunday School class and fought the tears.
Everyone knew each other. You could tell there were thick bonds that I was so broken, I didn’t think my shattered self could mess with those bonds.
Some did visit my table and say hello but to hear the new laughter knowing all my 30+ years of friendships were laughing without me?
I thought I would lose my mind from grief.
Even as time marched on and I was intentional about getting involved, I still battled loneliness. The ache grew within me and I didn’t know what to do. Where are these friends I’m going to have for the rest of my life? Where are my girls who are going to whisk me to ice cream or take my phone call at midnight during a life and death moment? Where is my new life?
I asked the question enough of myself and God that one day I felt led to ask a trusted woman I considered not just a friend, but a mentor. She had a sweet spirit and I learned so much from her. She made me feel safe, so I asked her what was wrong with me. Why wasn’t I making tons of friends?
She barely hesitated. But she did smile.
“You aren’t making friends because you aren’t supposed to.”
She continued. “You’re a leader. Leaders don’t have a lot of friendships. They can’t. You’re being prepared to touch a lot of acquaintances. You will spend a lot of time with them, loving them. Encouraging them. Praying for them. And when they go away, you will be drained. You will need refilling. And that is when you return to the very small circle that will be your very closest and dearest of friends.”
Those words blew me away, and scared me at the time. I liked the number of people I hung out with and called on in NY and that number wasn’t even close in Ohio.
Today that number is even smaller.
But what’s left is like a refining fire. Precious gold that I treasure. I’m so glad I listened to her because she’s right. I do a lot of praying for people and I love to encourage. And as much as I enjoy it, it takes a lot out of me. To do that and run with a group of girls to the mall would be too much for me. But to have those few that I can call, text or visit and say I’m spent, they get me. They’ve got me. And I’ve got them.
The second instruction I received was as I prayed. It was probably 5 years ago a lot of people were coming to me and their needs were great. Needs that if I got a counseling degree and won the Lotto, I still wouldn’t be able to help. But I was staying up nights worrying about them. How would that marriage work out? What about that person’s job? Is this one going to harm themself?
I could feel my emotions churning so hard my insides were becoming toxic. I was literally making myself sick.
And that’s when I received this one sentence as I prayed: “If you take these burdens on yourself, it will kill you.”
I knew that was from the Lord. It wasn’t condemning or a fear based sentence. It was a fact. And I decided right then I was going to immediately surrender the people and situations I pray for to Him. It might come off to some that I don’t care, but it’s quite the opposite. I care enough to do it right. I have to do it His way. It’s the only way those precious people are going to find answers.
I felt I was supposed to share this, so my guess is there’s someone reading who is feeling lonely with that ache I know too well. A leader in the making whose circle is getting smaller and smaller. Take heart. It’s by design.
Perhaps you’re a prayer warrior and your blood pressure is up and your emotions are down because you’re trying to find the solutions for everyone. You want to say the perfect thing to that person in need of Jesus. Been there. The word I received isn’t just for me.
If you take these burdens on yourself, it will kill you.
You’re too amazing for that.
Slow down. Look around and appreciate that group you’re in. That very small circle of people you can trust. Who are out to better you. That’s a rare thing to have. It’s a gift.
If you’re a prayer warrior/intercessor, learn surrender. Picture yourself as the vessel God gives the words to for prayer. And as you do, picture yourself laying that person and their things at the cross.
And leave it there.
Trust me, you’ll be glad you listened.
The mailbox contains one of two invites.
Wedding or Graduation.
Or if your wallet is really light, both.
This week at Christians Read I share 3 suggestions for graduates.