I tried to keep it together…I really did. I was simply swapping child-in-college stories with a friend while standing in the cheese section of the grocery store, and before I knew it, my eyes were watering. What in the world? I’m supposed to have this down-pat by now!
This past weekend, Roy and I once again drove away from a college campus…with one of our children in the rearview mirror.
I wish I could say it is easier now than in years past. But every parting is painful, a tearing of tender emotions.
Over and over we tell ourselves, “This is a good thing…it is time for this child to take this step…time for her to go and grow…”
And that’s the rub.
Growth can be painful. There is risk involved. In this case, a child is stepping out into an unknown world. Parents are returning home to an unfamiliar silence (or home to one less sweet voice). And we’re asking a lot of questions – Is this child ready? Did we adequately prepare her for what lies ahead? Will she make the bed and wash her clothes?
I have friends experiencing this for the first time and my heart goes out to them. Sometimes you don’t know how to feel. Sitcoms and movies depict parents high-fiving and jumping for joy at their new-found freedom and I won’t deny there are perks – time with your sweetheart, time to refocus and try something new, less running, running, running. God offers fresh and exciting opportunities in every life-season.
But there is also a grieving process. That moment when it hits – that a time of life is transitioning, or coming to a close – can leave a parent slightly dazed. Unfortunately, we tend to internalize our anxiety and assume we’re struggling alone, that no one else could possibly understand.
Any major change can be challenging and a child vacating the nest is one of the toughest.
But there is good news!
We have a Heavenly Father who identifies with the upheaval of our hearts. Jesus experienced times of transition with all the accompanying emotions – pain, loneliness, sorrow, uncertainty. He knows the longings of our soul and He offers amazing comfort in our confusion. He loves us, and He loves our children.
Our God is faithful. He will never forsake His people. He provides His Word, time with Him in prayer, and (if we look around), others who are experiencing similar struggles.
If you presently have a child in your rearview mirror, (or you’re in theirs) through marriage, school (Kindergarten – college), or other life-events, remember…
…you are not alone.
Father God, I know in my head that this time of transition is a good thing. That it is Your design for families to grow and change. But Lord, right now I can’t seem to get my heart in line. At this moment, I feel a little lost. I want to dig in and hold on to the past. Please, help me to remember that You are in control, Your plan is perfect, and Your love is eternal.
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19 (NIV)
For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Psalm 107:9 (KJV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)