For months, I’ve braced myself. Even with COVID-19, I knew the day would come: my youngest would move away for college. Dread aptly captures how I felt. I fretted about a nest void of kids and a calendar strangely empty of distractions I thought would ease me through this transition.
“It’ll be fine,” people would say. “You’ll love it, just wait and see.” Others brought up how little time college-bound kids spend at home anyway. “It won’t be that different.”
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Well . . . unless they graduated in the midst of a pandemic!
My daughter has been home a lot, and that’s the thing. It’s not just a kid leaving, it’s a friend. The last of four fun, interesting, entertaining young adults. Because she’s a girl, she’s also a companion. We loved the same things, so we loved doing them together. It’s like having a built-in spontaneous play date.
It’s been a really sweet season. One I cherish even as the days fly and her move-in date races closer.
Some days, I can see myself on the other side of this . . . in a new, rewarding normal—just me and James. Even as my heart tenderly smiles at memories of when my four were littles, I don’t want to turn back the clock. (To be honest, I am really thankful I’m not navigating this upcoming school year with school-age kids, and mama, if this is you, I am praying for you.) At the same time, I dread the uncomfortable, unfamiliar of what I anticipate to be a really hard transition to get to the other side.
My head knows all the things: God is with me, He has a good plan, this is going to be a good season, and I am going to love it. I truly believe all of this.
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At the same time, I want to let my heart be sad. I don’t want to avoid the yucky feelings or distract myself into a state of numbness because I want to be present for the good, too. I want to be fully present these last moments, hours, and days, even as THAT DAY becomes tomorrow, and THAT MOMENT becomes now, and I have to give her one last hug, turn away, get in the car, and drive from campus.
I’ve done it before. It’s excruciating. God was faithful then, He is faithful now, and He will be faithful then.
He will carry and comfort me through, and that is a balm to my anticipating soul, where I see Him doing a new thing. I can’t fully articulate what it is, but I perceive it. He is making streams in this desert and ways in this wilderness (see Isaiah 43:19).
In these last few days, He has opened my eyes to all the ways He’s already gone before me to put things in place for this very season:
1. Our oldest daughter works for our family-owned business, so three days a week, she and our grandson Jamie show up at our home office for work—this is a HUGE blessing for this next season.
2. James and I have a life group with young newlyweds, and we have the sweetest community with young adults hungry to serve God and love one another well, another HUGE blessing for this season.
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3. I spend Fridays with the most precious team from Mercy House Global as we go to Houston each week to love and serve refugee artisans, yet another HUGE blessing for this season.
What seems like all of a sudden, God has changed my whole perspective to see the fullness He’s already ordered in my days instead of just the empty bedrooms in my home.
Empty bedrooms do not equal an empty life.
The dread of this weekend’s hard goodbye is gone. Don’t get me wrong, I still choke up every time I try to imagine actually leaving my youngest at college, but it’s a secure sadness: secure in the arms and comfort of my God. Secure in the absolute of His goodness and faithfulness. Thankfulness overwhelms me as all God’s done strengthens me to know He will continue to have my back and my heart.