A look back five whole years ago now…
College Move-in Day is nearly upon us. The day I leave a part of myself to begin the best parts of himself. And, by now, it may be clear there’s been a small struggle, which makes me wonder and ponder and ask, “Why?” Which always makes me think bigger and look up.
So here’s the thing. Many say my job is not over and I understand their point, but in a very real sense – it is over. The “job” part of it, anyway. Because really, hasn’t everything up to this point been in preparation for this very time? And, this is how it should be and it is hard, because, sometimes it’s just hard to say goodbye to what has been or hello to the something new. Or both.
And, let’s be honest, isn’t this the point of parenthood anyway – raising someone to adulthood? And, well now, he is finally that adult and he will go off and “adult” out in that very real world. He’ll make his mistakes, revel in his victories, learn his lessons, dream his dreams and meet the love of his life.
And so, while my job is over, I thankfully recognize I still do have a role in his adult life… to mourn his mistakes; revel loudly in his victories; say, “I told you so…” when he learns those lessons; listen when he wants to share those dreams; and love well that love of his life.
Which brings me to the good part. Love. Because, in every sense of the word, this is also a love story. A story of a saving God loving a young, broken girl too much to leave her where she was by blessing her with a wonderful husband and an unexpected, yet unbelievably amazing son. Of two becoming one, under the head of the One Who’s ways are higher, and learning to love Him, each other, and their son.
A love story filled with mistakes, regrets, and bad choices, but with more Grace than one could ever dream possible. One filled with promises and peace and hope for a future. This story could’ve had a very different ending, but not with God. With Him all things are possible and the broken becomes beautiful and love never fails.
And, while this may be the end of one chapter in this love story, it is also the beginning of the next, filled with even more love and hope and grace, and yeah… I’m hoping a few more well placed, “I told you so’s.”
And so, when I ponder the idea of leaving a part of myself to go off and find himself, I can’t help but recall the greater story that’s being played out – the Love that’s being poured out on every one of us who get to live out His purpose for each of us, because we get to share in His story and give Him all the glory.
Five Years (and many tears, fears, and failures) Later
Wowzers! What a wild ride it’s been. I’d love to say there were merely a few bumps and that only love, joy, and hope, plus a few well-placed “I told you so’s” were all that filled our days all these many months later. I’d love to say it was the smooth, pain-free, exciting ride I’d always dreamt it would be. I’d also love to say that grace ruled the day.
I’d love to say all that and more, but I know better than to pretend. Because this is real life. Real messy life. And while I can say he’s now graduated with an amazing job (Bless him! Thank you, Lord Jesus!! Hallelujah!!! *dancing*), I also have to confess it wasn’t without much mess and struggle and pain. As a sweet friend of mine likes to say, there’s always a story behind the story, and so, since I was born, bred, and have planted my own deep roots here in Central Florida, I’d like to share portions of this S.B.T.S., beginning with a theme park analogy. Listen, in more ways than I can share here, it just seems entirely too fitting not to.
To College and Beyond (Better buckle up, Folks!)
Although our ride through college, and a little bit beyond, may have started out on It’s a Small World, all smooth sailing and safe and sterile, it, pretty quickly, embarked – then stayed stuck for way, way too long – on something more reminiscing Pirate’s of the Caribbean. Only to eventually ship wreck, though quickly recover, by stealing someone else’s fast pass to the original, pitch black version of Space Mountain. I mean, do you remember the
fear thrill of that ridiculous ride?! You couldn’t even see your own hand in front of you. I was always slipping my body way down, too, afraid my head was gonna get sliced clean off. Guess that was the fun of it, looking waaaay back, because I am that old.
But, back to now and these last few years, when all the “thrill” of outer space eventually seemed to wear off. And just when we thought we might be pulling into the station to disembark, the cart suddenly spun completely off the rails, careening wildly down I-4, before crashing hard into Universal’s Horror Nights, where we basically camped for what felt like a month’s (and month’s and month’s!) worth of nightmares. Simply stated, To College and Beyond has been a wild ride.
Speaking of, am I the only girl who never understood why they got rid of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride?? Truly, the best ride ever. Silly people.
Anyway, how I wish I was exaggerating for the sake of a good story here. How I wish I could’ve ever trusted for even a moment I was in the middle of any kind of good at all. We always are, mind you. But, in those long days and months, there were times that I struggled to breathe, let alone grasp any hope or exhale an ounce of faith. I wondered how our little world had gone from scenes of Happy Days to outtakes of Jerry Springer. How, in the blink of an eye, a switch had just seemed to flip and everything turned upside down. Looking back now, I felt like I was on that OG Space Mountain coaster… like I might well lose my head and couldn’t see a thing for all the tears and unbelief and even outright rage in all that darkness.
See, I’d so often contemplated those college days and the life beyond, dreaming of how some of the best days of one’s life often happen there. Yet, none of that seemed to be playing out. So, contemplation turned rather quickly to questioning… How could this be, Lord? Do our dreams account for nothing? Don’t my desires for my children matter in the least? What in the name of heaven is happening? I thought I did (most) things (mostly) right here? Because this is not at all what “launching” should look like, right? Nothing at all like what it had looked like up to that point even! Such promise and potential and production and preparation...
And, oh my, such pride.
Such doggone, pathetic pride. So much. In each of us, really. And we eventually just faltered. Then fell. Then got stuck there, all suffocated and suppressed and seething.
Until we, thankfully… hopefully… all become a little more surrendered.
Surrender Is Key
Because, the thing is, all these dreams of ours don’t really account for too, too much when we are living in Jesus’ Love Story. Instead our dreams should be easily surrendered and come to resemble more like a willingness to do whatever will bring Him the most glory. Our dreams should eventually – actually – become HIS very dreams for us. And our dreams must become what they were designed to become from the beginning… what we are becoming when we belong to Him.
Not what we, alone, hope that we become… hope our dear fledglings become.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.Proverbs 19:21
See, my dreams for him were sourced in my own pride. And his dreams for himself were sourced in his own pride. His seem excusable. Or, at least, understandable. Mine, however, not so much. I knew better. At least, I thought I did. And it’s not to say that any of our dreams were wrong, exactly. Only short-sided. Without the clear vision and full knowledge of all of what we cannot see and certainly can never control.
But that’s the voice of pride, isn’t it? We do know. We can see. We can control. So we can do this. Alone. Nope, nope… I meant, all alone, thank you very much! And, so, we plan. We devise. We schedule, work, play, and dream to our heart’s content.
Then see to it we accomplish it and find complete contentment in all of it. Alone.
Until life sees fit to come to its own conclusions, screeching us to a halt via some surprise road block, bump, detour, train-wreck, or out-right tragedy.
Now, again, I’m not saying it’s bad to have dreams. For our fledglings, especially. Dreaming can be good and some do actually come true. But like so much in life, our dreams have a way of becoming idols when we aren’t surrendering them by placing each at the feet of Jesus to order aright, or even ask if it’s the right dream to begin with.
Same goes with those dreams for all of our precious “hims” and “herms” (our family’s affectionate name for the female pups – and my only girls – in our life *wink, wink*). And we must always be aware of how quickly our children and their happiness can reach idol-like status for us. How their needs can overtake us, break us, or even overwhelm our very own dreams and lives.
Overwhelm our very own relationship with Jesus…
Causing us to fret and try to fix, instead of seek Jesus’ face. Causing us to worry instead of worship. Meddle instead of marvel at a masterpiece in the making. Pout, pace, preach, and pounce instead of pray. Seek control instead of God’s way forward, or His grace beyond, or simply more faith in the ultimate faithfulness of God.
Because the bottom line will always be this, Friends… Jesus loves us, individually, and loves those precious ones given us even more than we do or ever can, and so, His dream for them will always the BEST possible thing. For us and for them! Best for His Kingdom Come, too. Despite what may be playing itself out in their lives. Even if it looks more like our worst nightmares come true. Yes, even right this second now, as you may be close to pulling your own hair out, throwing in the towel, or coming completely undone.
And we must keep reminding ourselves of this, as we continue to lay these newly adulting loved ones at His feet in prayer and petition. Because they need this from us. They need us to commit to this! They need us going to God and not them. They need to know that they can adult. That they are capable. They don’t need us forever chirping on with lists and must-do’s and pressures of all they must-be. Would you get with the program?! Today, please!! Geez! Though, I’ll always contend that a few well-placed “I told you so’s” never hurt anyone, so continue on your way with that one.
But, if you struggle like me in any of the other areas above. Struggle to watch the newly struggling, adulting one in your own life, then be not afraid. Honestly, I think we’re in pretty decent company, though mostly I know we’re not at all alone. Besides our fellow humans sharing this burden with us, we have Another. One Who not only wants to share it, but to take the burden off our shoulders completely. Another Who is not only for us, but for our precious fledgling, wing-spreaders, as well. Another Who longs for us to know that even when we fight against them, or even Him, because we can’t begin to see the way forward in their life, He can always see… simply because He’s prepared their exact flight plan.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.Proverbs 16:9
Prayer Becoming Vision Becoming Dreams
And so, I’ll finish this S.B.T.S. with a little something I’ve learned these last five years: Loving adult children is hard business and certainly not for the faint of heart. Listen, it’s actually ground-breaking territory for us Mommas, too, who have done so much for them for so, so long, to have to sit back now and only watch. Silently, I might add. My word! The nerve of that particular demand! All the while pondering how we can, like literally, physically place each lesson we’ve already learned for our own selves into their sweet, little baby-faced heads (because that’s how we still see them, duh!) so they can stop being in the mistake-making business to begin with. While wondering, too, why someone hasn’t invented – I mean, by now, my goodness – a way to give away life’s wisdom by osmosis!
But, we can’t. Because, it’s still not a thing. And it wouldn’t work if we could. Simply because they have new lessons of their own to learn. A new life for themselves to live. A different life. Different from ours. Different, even, from their own siblings, and friends, or any other person’s life that appeals more to us than the one they keep choosing and keep messing up […she whispers under her breath, lest a certain blessed fledgling is listening…]
And that life? Well, it’s solely theirs to live. Created especially for them. By the same Creator we have. Yep. Because He’s personal.
It all should excite us, really. Even the bumps and missteps. Though, I’ll freely admit the outright wrecks are hard-as-you-know-what to watch. Trusting good will eventually come helps, yet it’s also hard as *bleep*! So when it became too hard for me to watch anymore and I couldn’t trust at all, here’s what I finally did: I sat my sad, prideful, un-surrendered self down for a good long while with The One Who loves us both and I simply prayed. Prayed for God’s good and perfect plan to play out, of course, because I’d been begging for that all along…
But, I also asked for something else. I asked Him to reveal to me His personal promises over my dear fledgling. Promises specific to this human… this very gift of grace He’d surprised and blessed me with all those years ago. Promises that were already in place and ready to be found in His Good Book chock full of promises for us all.** Promises that, once gathered together, eventually amounted to a vision for my son. A vision that no one could ever dream up, except his very own Creator and Heavenly Father. Promises that moved beyond even my wildest dreams, because they spoke to every bit of who he was created, in my very womb, to be.
And then I simply wrote down all those promises on the biggest note card I could find. And I began praying for each of them specifically, agreeing with God’s dream and vision. Speaking life to them and giving thanks for each of them, especially for my most favorite one of them all, which says that God calls things that are not as though they are.
And every time I was tempted to give up on him… give up on the dreams… give up on ever seeing the vision play out and any good way forward, I pulled out that note card and I recited these promises. On repeat, some days. And I slowly began to see all the ways God lives deep in the details of life. All the ways He is forever guiding and moving and maneuvering. Closing some doors, opening others, and even downright knocking out seemingly immovable objects.
And these promises were not only for my fear-filled, disoriented fledgling, either. They’re for me, too. Because I can be just like him. So, they keep me grounded in truth when the fear shouts loud. They help me see purpose when I’m blinded by all that’s bad. They help me to know that neither of us are ever alone. That the Love that guides both of our lives, walks beside us. Always and in all days.
They help me to remember that this story is still a Love Story filled with more grace than I can dare dream. One filled with promises and peace and hope for a future. A story that still could have a very different ending, if not for God. Because with Him all things are possible and the broken becomes beautiful and love never fails. And so now, when I ponder, I also pray His promises over those dreams, and I still can’t help but recall the greater story that’s being played out – the Love that’s being poured out on every one of us who get to live out His purpose for each of us, because we get to share in His story and give Him all the glory ❤
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”James 4:13-15
**Feel free to message me if you would like more specifics on exactly how to do this