For parents… a child heading off to college is a big deal! The idea is enough to make dads grab reflexively at their wallets and mom’s to dab at their cheeks to slow the silent tears forming in their eyes. It’s surreal, because you can still remember exactly what this strange suddenly all grown-up – adult child looked like mere moments after being born… perfectly tiny fingers and toes, wrinkled skin, so small and defenseless and oh so pure in their not grown-up in anywayness. 🙂
Suddenly… Eighteen years are gone… vaporized by time. It leaves us with only a puff of memories and a vague awareness of how much faster our time with our kids expired…so much quicker than could ever be believed? I was driving slowly, slower than I needed on the three-hour trip from Nashville to Jackson TN. Taking the “long” route for our scheduled tour… half hoping that somewhere on the way she might ask me to pull over and turn around, suddenly happy to stay at home after high school and never leave.
Instead I re-discovered my daughter’s thirst for life, knowledge and challenge rivaled my own… that her excitement was only growing at the opportunity to show and share with me the place she was going to go for the next four years of her life! She jabbered like a song-bird, going on and on about the “amazing” programs and “academic” challenges she was about to engage in, how she was ready, really ready to move beyond the tedium of a high-school where half the kids didn’t even want to be educated and the other half live obsessed with style and popularity, leaving her somewhere in the awkward and grown-up-before-your-time stage of being a senior.
I could see she WAS ready. IS ready to graduate not just the four-year course of education we call high-school, but this entire teenager stage of her life. The season of her growing into full adulthood was dawning right in front of me… next would be marriage and then… well let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The point is this, my little girl… is all grown up now. Prepared, ready as she can be, for the next step of life. She was no longer just my little girl.. but a woman. I could almost hear the echoes of her childhood in my ear, the giggles and laughs, the relentless questions about colors and birds and bee’s and all the stuff that kids MUST know, as soon it pops into their minds. Of her as she was…
I almost got sad on that drive… until I looked at her eager face, the resolve in her eyes to go forward, to expand, to grow and to become the woman God had created her to be. She had picked this college because of its academics and it’s values. A carefull review of hundreds of schools and institutions had been pursued, all with great ideas and opportunities for her to explore, but it was only after she prayed and waited on God’s direction that she CHOSE this one. If there was one life-lesson I could have ever hoped to transfer to my kids it would be this…
“Ask God first, and then wait on Him to pick for you… “
It doesn’t matter what the situation, environment, context or concern…if our kids learn anything from us… it’s critical the biggest truth of all involves teaching them to Go To GOD first. Of all the truths, principles or beliefs that I hold dear, this one trumps them all… and somewhere, somehow… my oldest child seemed to be getting at least a piece of that hard-won truth for herself.
I started to let my breath out as we pulled into the visitors parking lot for our college tour… I slowly extricated myself from our car and hurried to catch up with my daughter… I was smiling now, happy and profoundly grateful. God is/was/will be faithful, He does/has and will make up the difference for our poor choices and parenting mistakes… the proof of that was right here in front of me… eighteen years down, four more unwritten ones ahead. Marvelous!
I grabbed her hand as we entered the student services building, saying a silent, but significant “Thank You” to God for His GRACE to get us from here to there and beyond. I don’t know how I could ever have hoped to attempt this parenting thing without you by my side, but even more… “Thank you for going before me and walking my daughter through these doors yourself, I know she’s in good hands!”
Peace and Grace to you my fellow RTP’s,