:: [Guest post by Tracy Balzer] ::
My family thinks I have a heart of steel.
And it’s true. I rarely cry in sad movies. I’m a rock at funerals. I’m an off-the-chart “T” in the Myers-Briggs world, with no visible “F”. It’s sort of embarrassing, really, especially as someone who claims to be following a ministerial call. Shouldn’t those of a pastoral ilk show more than a little bit of emotion now and then?
But today I’ve got my supply of Kleenex at the ready. This is the day when the Iron Maiden turns into a blob of jello. It’s the day our graduating seniors are awarded all kinds of honors, and we follow with a Baccalaureate service of praise. Tomorrow they’ll walk across the stage as their names are called, having completed their four years with us. And I will blubber like a baby.
This is an annual occurrence for me, the time of year when my calling as a campus minister is absolutely confirmed and affirmed. Because I’m reminded that I’ve had the honor of really getting inside some of these hearts and minds that will be graduating. They’ve shared their stories with me, we’ve prayed together. I’ve read their reflective journals in class, and watched them wrestle with God. There is nothing that touches my heart more deeply than growth – watching a college student take a few more steps toward God, and seeing His hope in their eyes as they grab hold of that diploma.
The tears will come again sometime in the future when I hear about all the amazing things they are doing. Working in a human trafficking ministry in India. Serving as an attaché to a government leader in Central America. Raising an adopted child. Our graduates absolutely amaze me with their courage, compassion, obedience.
Turns out that the small role we play as campus ministers turns out to not be so small after all. We do our best to collaborate with the Spirit as he beckons these students and shapes them into someone a bit more Christ-like. The results we see on graduation day are not perfect…but to witness the process is exhilarating. It’s enough to annually undo someone as emotionally unmovable as myself. What God can do in a young life is absolutely astonishing, and I weep at the wonder of it.
So today I will praise God with tears…and then stow away the Kleenex til this time next year.
Tracy Balzer is the Director of Christian Formation at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, AR.