To all the moms, dads, stepparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors, mentors, and teachers from kindergarten through high school who’ve recently encouraged, dragged, pushed, guided, spurred, and cheered a graduate across a stage, THANK YOU!

I now proudly join the ranks of the moms who’ve watched a child graduate from high school, and the emotional onslaught is quite the complex maze to navigate. Sorting through a lifetime of pictures to display at his graduation party brought feelings of nostalgia for days I was once wishing away. And, now, in just a few weeks, he will move out of our home that he grew up in and spread his wings.

In case you are a parent also struggling with the emotion of having a graduate, or maybe you’re a parent of a young one still in the early years, I wanted to share some of the words of encouragement I offer to my son.

A Mother’s Prayer for her Graduate:

As you continue to grow up, there are a few more “ups” I pray that you take to heart along the way…

I pray that you SHOW UP.

Take advantage of every opportunity, and be all in. Engage fully in every class, interview, date, and excursion with friends.

I pray that you MAN UP.

Be a gentleman. Treat her heart as the rare gem that it is, Give her respect and honor. Which “her”? Every. Single. One. Especially until you meet THE “her”.

I pray that you STAND UP.

Advocate for the hurting and alone, Stand up for the broken and marginalized. Stand for those who might not be able to stand for themselves or who just need support.

I pray that you SPEAK UP.

God gave you a voice. Use it. Share your opinions, but speak with a combination of compassion and wisdom, remembering that leadership is influence.

I pray that you LISTEN UP.

You have two ears and one mouth for a reason- listen more than you speak. Be humble enough to see everyone around you as a teacher. When you listen you validate others around you, even if you disagree, and you learn a little bit more about yourself and the world around you.

I pray that you CIRCLE UP.

Community is a must! I pray over the next few years you find lifelong friends. Surround yourself with people who challenge, support, laugh, live, and grow with you.

I pray at you REST UP.

Recognize when you need to say “no” in order to step back and take time to recharge and rejuvenate.

I pray that you CHIN UP.

Life will be filled with ups and downs. Heartbreak, disappointments, challenges, and grief are ahead of you. I pray that you allow each one to shape you into a better person, not a bitter one. Allow hardships to strengthen you, but not to harden you.

I pray that you CLEAN UP.

For Heaven’s sake. Please do some laundry every now and then.

Lastly, I pray that you LOOK UP.

You have a Heavenly Father who loves you and will never leave you. Your dad and I have done all we can to model and lay a foundation of faith for you. It’s now yours. I pray that you engage, dig, ask hard questions, and wrestle until you find your one-of-a-kind faith. Take your doubts, fears, and questions to God. He can handle them.

And, through all of these “ups”  remember who you are and whose you are.

“And she loved a boy very, very much- even more than she loved herself.”

The Giving Tree