This weekend IT happened. She did it! My baby has officially completed the major task of American childhood. At 17, she is now officially a high school graduate and ready to explore all God has placed in front of her. I have gone through the typical mood swings of a soon-to-be empty nester — from irritable taskmaster, to overly sentimental, to tearfully nostalgic.
To me she will always be “chewy” the chubby-cheeked toddler who took an hour to chew her food before swallowing (literally an HOUR!), insisted on wearing her pants backward, refused to wear bows (even on her underwear), was injury-prone and had this wild, curly, blonde hair that drove me crazy to comb but was amazingly lice resistant. As I take in this season as a time of sweet reflection, God is reminding me of all her precious moments along with her many near-death experiences. Like the time she took her walker down a flight of brick stairs or when she nearly drowned in our dear friend's spa — the image of my friend pulling my blue little girl out of the water will never leave me. I also reflect on her fierce determination. At 12 months, she refused baby food and would only eat what her big sis had on her plate. Then at 18 months, she decided it was time to be potty trained so she took care of that too. She has changed schools multiple times without skipping a beat. She even went through a couple of years where teachers and church leaders would inadvertently forget to include her. We attended many an award presentation where the teacher/leader forgot to even call her name. And still that “Sue Heck” side of her kept smiling and got her “award” later. Niaya has always had her own way of doing things and really does not like to hear the word no. Thankfully, she has a tender, sensibility that means we rarely have to use THAT word.
In August, our girl will head off to Camp Eagle for a 9-month Gap Year where she will work at the camp, go on week-long outdoor adventures, work with the homeless and be discipled. I will really miss her, but I am excited to watch her bloom like my first-born daughter. There is just something so sweet about getting to walk alongside a new creation. Watching them find success, stumble, and then dust themselves off and try again. It’s the essence of beauty.
You don’t have to be a parent to experience this type of beauty — so full of laughter, tears and periods of pure frustration. I am doing a study by She Reads Truth on 1 & 2 Corinthians. I think Paul feels this way about the struggling young Christian community in Corinth. It is thought that Paul wrote several letters to this struggling church that he loved so much. 1 Corinthians is believed to be the 2nd of 3 letters where he offers blunt, Paul-type guidance and a sometimes strong rebuke to the young believers. At times, you can hear in his writing how broken hearted he is when they pull away from The Truth. As you can imagine, the Corinthians were not loving Paul’s first couple of letters, however, when Titus returned from delivering letter #3 he had good news. Many of the believers had repented and the Church was coming alive again. Yep, I’m pretty sure church planting feels much like parenting.
Paul’s final letter to Corinth has a much different tone. You get a sense of His joy and his desire to pass along all of those last minute “oh shoot, I forgot to tell you” teachings.
Much like me today, Paul was full of the pride of a parent but still had that inexplicable fear that he forgot to teach them something. And like me, he knew he had to place that fear at the Father’s feet knowing that the journey that God has allowed us to be a part of this far is a gift. Yes, we forget to pass along a few great nuggets of wisdom but the Truth remains for us and for those we are releasing:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 1 cor 12:9
So if you are like me and are struggling to release a child, a ministry or any type of a labor of love, join me in thanking the Lord for the opportunity to walk in peace, pain, joy, and sorrow with His precious creation, shedding the tears that need to be released and looking to the Lord for WHAT’S NEXT.