It’s been a couple of days since your graduation from the University of Iowa. I doubt this letter contains anything new. While we may not always agree (what father and daughter do?), you and I talk a lot. Sometimes we both listen well. Other times we don’t. Relationships, like ministry, are always easier when sinful people aren’t involved, but there’s no way around that in our case. Is there?
Knowing that what I’m about to communicate will likely come as no surprise to you, I think it appropriate to write you a public letter. My hope is that you will be edified as I reaffirm some important truths. And maybe, just maybe, another father/daughter relationship out there might be encouraged, too.
You have not often heard me speak well of “higher education,” or public/government education in general. After all, we pulled your two older sisters out of public elementary school when we decided to homeschool all of our children. While it is in some ways a societal necessity, only in that some career paths require higher education, I think nowadays higher education is, by and large, little more than an a place and an effort to indoctrinate young people like yourself into believing and submitting to whatever zeitgeists may dominate society at the time. Sadly, this, too, can be said of some (not all) institutions of higher learning known as “Christian colleges” and “seminaries.”
That being said and understood, Amanda…
I am proud of you.
I am proud of all three of my three daughters’ efforts and success in pursuing their respective degrees.
All three of “my girls” have earned multiple degrees. All three of you, with the help of family and your own hard work (sometimes multiple jobs while maintaining full-time class schedules), have earned your degrees without incurring a penny of debt.
Every bit as important is the fact that all three of you are putting your educations to use as you are working (or, in your case, will be working) in your respective fields of study. As you know, Amanda, I have met far too many young people who, after earning their degrees, find themselves in seemingly insurmountable debt and working entry-level, fast-food or retail jobs, with little or no hope of ever putting their degrees to use.
Amanda, you are the most recent and last of our graduates. Just a few days ago, you graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Creative Writing, and a Certificate in Museum Studies. You graduated “with distinction,” and Phi Beta Kappa. Well done!
Next, you will pursue your Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science, with an emphasis on Archives Management, at Simmons University (Boston, MA). With the help of a generous and well-earned scholarship, you will pursue this degree online, which means you get to stay home. Your mother and I are very happy about that, no matter how many times I’ve joked about turning your bedroom into an office.
Like your sisters, you have faced multiple challenges to your Christain worldview by university professors, classmates, curriculum, and the university subculture. You met each challenge head-on, not allowing grades or peer pressure to cause you to shy away from standing for the truth. I’ve read most of your college and university papers, so I know this is true. In any given instance, making such stands could have cost you in real and tangible ways. You knew that as you put pen to paper. You did it anyway. And God has been gracious to you. I am proud of you.
It has taken you eight years to get to this point. The length of time was not your own doing. A life-altering family move halfway across the country, from California to Iowa, transferring credits from one state to another, as well as other various schools’ administrative policies and glitches, has prolonged your time at university. It hasn’t been easy. But Amanda, you have persevered. You never quit. I am proud of you.
Amanda, you are an imperfect person, from imperfect stock. Your sanctification is far from complete. Take it from your father who knows this all-too-well about himself, too.
There are times when the pursuit of your aspirations and goals have overshadowed your pursuit of Christ. You know this. Amanda, when you find yourself in those moments, repent and look to the cross of Christ. Repent, and remember that what God has given you in salvation by His grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is of far greater value than anything the world’s education system or resultant secular career can give you.
Remember, Amanda, this world and everything we desire from it is passing away. It will burn, melt, and be swept away like dross. Only that which is done for Christ and His glory will ever truly remain. Only that which is done for Christ will stand. Only that which is done for His glory will ever be a crown you can one day lay at the Master’s feet.
Amanda, may the Lord Jesus be your all-in-all, in all that you do. May the faith you profess in Jesus Christ be found truly genuine in all your pursuits and always more important than anything you do in or for this world.
May your faith in Christ be such that if God chose to strip you of everything: aspirations, goals, all future plans, degrees, health, or anything the world might see as prosperity, your faith in Christ would remain.
Amanda, be known first, not as an archivist, or a librarian, or a highly educated person, or a hard worker, but as a follower of Christ. Be known as a woman who, simply and most importantly, for the glory of Christ does all things well.
And please remember; never forget the lady standing to your left in the above picture–the one who educated you from infancy to adulthood–my bride and my very best friend–has been chosen of God to fulfill the highest of all feminine callings: that of wife and mother. There is no higher nor more beautiful role for a woman than to complete a godly man in marriage and, if the Lord wills, to raise children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. You know this, and you know it is God who will determine if this is the role you will ultimately fill in this, his earthly kingdom. I know you are waiting on Him to make His will known, in this regard.
If God brings a godly man into your life (and I hope he is a better man than your father), if God allows me to place your beautiful hand into the hand of another man, my hope and prayer are that the biblical values with which you have been raised, the biblical values your mother imperfectly but beautifully exemplifies, will be the ones that govern your life as a wife and a mother.
In the meantime, Amanda, you have my prayerful and physical support as you take the next step in your education.
Pray, worship, and lovingly serve Christ more than you study for classes. Study your Bible more than you study for exams. Look for an opportunity to testify about Christ in every assignment. May a “well done good and faithful servant” from the Lord always be more important than a grade from a professor.
Yes, Amanda; do well in school. And let the glorification of Christ in your life be the standard by which you determine how well you are doing.
I’m proud of you, Amanda.
With the love of a father to his daughter,