My son graduated, but I got schooled

A lot can happen in just 24 hours. I’m going to be brutally honest and completely transparent about something I’m learning the hard way.

Last night my son graduated from high school. The past months have been filled with anticipation of this momentous occasion, but nothing about this was surprising. As I sat in a crowd of thousands, I was reminded that as a highly educated man, I take a lot of things for granted.

The reality is that from the time my children were born, I’ve never really even considered the possibility that they wouldn’t finish high school. It was always a given. It was merely the next in a series of accomplishments I expected to see fulfilled.

Consequently, I wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic as many others gathered at North Little Rock’s Verizon Arena. Sure, I took some pictures. And I applauded when appropriate. But for our family, this ceremony was simply a formality — something that has to happen in order to move to the next rung on the social ladder.

When Jackson started high school as a ninth-grader, there were around 700 in his class. Last night’s commencement was for around 500 graduates. You do the math. Was the ceremony a little rowdier than I’m accustomed to? Yes. Were there expletives shouted here and there? Yes. Did some of the attendees behave as though they’d never been to such an event before? Again, yes. And in the moment it frustrated me greatly.

Just 24 hours later though, I’m frustrated that I was frustrated. I’m sad that I somehow took a special occasion and made it about me — my values, my story, my preferences.

More than that, I’m heartbroken for the nearly 200 students we lost over the course of four years — many in their senior year. Why couldn’t they finish what they started? The easy narrative is to say they just didn’t care. But I don’t believe that, not for a minute.

I believe that what happened to them is the same thing that happens to thousands upon thousands of urban high school students all over America: poverty, unemployment, pregnancy, physical sickness, addiction, and mental illness. And maybe it wasn’t even something that happened to the students themselves. Just one of these issues in any given family can wreak havoc on the whole family system. How many families struggle with more than one of these issues at any given point in time?

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4 ways porn changes us

Several days ago as I was driving to a meeting, a segment on NPR caught my attention. It was a thought-provoking piece, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. They were discussing the prevalence of pornography and its impact on individuals and on our culture as a whole.

In the intro, All Things Considered host Ailsa Chang reported that PornHub, the largest free porn site, has over 100,000,000 visits a day, mostly from Americans under the age of 34 — people who have always had easy access to porn.

As a longtime pastor and counselor, I’ve seen the destructive nature of pornography up close. I’ve had friends and colleagues lose their families and their ministries because of their own personal struggles with porn. I’ve struggled with temptation myself, more often than I’d like to admit. And I know I’m not alone. Pornography is a daily temptation for millions of men and women of all ages and backgrounds.

People get involved with pornography for all kinds of reasons: curiosity, comparison, fantasy, escape, shame, compulsive thoughts, and sexual abuse, just to name a few. According to Webroot Cybersecurity, some 40 million Americans regularly visit porn sites. And they watch a lot of internet porn. Consider these stats:

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