Friday, May 26, 2017

To train up a child (to infinity and beyond)

To train up a child is to pour all your time, energy, and resources into a self-centered little person who takes everything you have to give and gives nothing in return. Nothing, that is, except the deepest and most satisfying joy you will ever experience. But they don’t provide that joy consciously. They aren’t intentional about it at first. Usually they enter your life like Bill Cosby described, with a cigar in their mouths and calling all the shots – and it’s your job to not let them. Their very existence brings you unspeakable fulfillment, but the daily reality of it all can be exhausting. Eventually, though, your job description changes, and then it’s time to let them call ALL their own shots, even when it’s really scary because they do NOT have a CLUE. Now that is something entirely different.

And that is where we find ourselves.

Our fourth daughter is graduating from high school soon, and we are once again faced with the task of sending a little birdie out of the nest and into the big, wide world. Some birdies have to be gently pushed out of their nest and some come crawling back when you’re looking the other way, but then there are those others who feel ready to fly long before they really are. This particular birdie is ready.

But are we?

Oh, we have ironed out our plans for celebration. We have ordered the cap and gown. We have paid the non-refundable registration fee for college. We have begun making plans for what we will do with her bedroom, once we rent that dumpster . . .

But has it been enough?

After all, we’ve only had 18 years to prepare for this moment. What started out feeling like an eternal stretch of time, something that we always talked about but that would never really happen . . . well, that something is now upon us with all the brutal force of raw reality, and it begs the question:

Have we done enough?

The answer is simple. Yes, we have. Because no matter how we much have failed or how much more we could have done, the truth is, we have done our very best and now here we are with no more time left.

It will have to be enough.

And wherever we have fallen short is exactly where God will meet us and our daughter right where we are. He will fill in the gaps, pick up the slack, and be the all-sufficiency for all our insufficiency, if we let him.

But we are taking this pretty much in stride. This is our fourth graduate, not our first, and we have learned a thing or two since our first go-round. We have learned that this transition is not the end of our relationship with our daughter. It is only the beginning of something new and better (and I don’t just mean she will be cleaning her own apartment and paying her own bills!). It is the beginning of a deep and lasting friendship rooted in love and trust that will follow us for the rest of time.

This is what we’ve been working for. From that very first day when the second blue line showed up on that pregnancy test over 18 years ago, this has always been the end goal. Not sleeping through the night, not potty-training, not passing her driver’s test, not even high school graduation. Our goal has been to train up a kind and decent person who would make her own way in the world, but who would never forget the way back home to the people that once upon a time gave up their own way to help her find hers. A person whom we could love with everything we have, and who would love us back more than we ever dared to deserve.

To infinity and beyond. <3

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

It's nothing a good bop on the head won't cure

Through a recent conversation with my dear hubbie, it was revealed to me I may or may not be addicted to stress.


Wait a minute!

Isn't addicted a rather strong word??

I would prefer something along the lines of stressed, busy, on-the-go, or even overwhelmed.

Those words leave me feeling in charge. Like I am in control. Like maybe my house didn't get dusted last week and maybe someone really ought to tackle the Leaning Tower of Laundry in my bedroom, but I still (basically) have it all together.

But . . . addicted?

That feels entirely different. That feels powerless and out of control. Like I made a conscious choice somewhere along the way to let my stress level rise to the top, and now I'm not so much a piece of driftwood tossing about in life's stormy seas, but more of a barnacle clinging to the underbelly of a boat.


That makes me want to detach myself and float free, stormy seas and all.

So why do I keep clinging to that slimy boat???

Jesus promised my yoke would be light and my burden would be easy, but I have to admit it doesn't always feel that way.  Burdens aren't typically easy to bear. Burdens are . . . well . . . burdensome. I generally kick and buck against the yoke on my shoulders and the rocky path before me. The load is too heavy, it chafes, it causes blisters, it's uncomfortable and confining. The road ahead appears untraveled and unpleasant. Dangerous, even.

But while I'm busy stressing over my situation, causing myself more and more discomfort, he's simply waiting for me to get tired of struggling. When I finally settle down, he's standing there ready to gently lead me, bearing the brunt of the load just as he always has.

I'm tired of being a beast of burden fighting against the very yoke that waits to ease my load.

I'm done with being a barnacle clinging to the bottom of a battleship.

I want to let go, to stop fighting, to crawl out from under. I want to feel the ocean breezes on my face.

I think I'd rather be an oar. An oar in the hands of an experienced boater can cut through choppy waves with purpose and certainty. It also knows when it's time to rest and let the waves do all the work.

Little known fact: A sturdy oar can also be used to bop overly-aggressive sharks on the head, should the need arise. I was enlightened recently by a YouTube video that left me awed and inspired. I have a few nasty sharks in my own life that could use a good bop on the head . . . anxiety, worry, regret, and fear, to name a few.

Yeah, I want to be an oar in the hands of Jesus.

Seems like a pretty easy burden to me.