For our family something different is just days away. If I can be honest with you I am neither ready for it or want it to come but as the old saying goes Time waits for no one. See in just a short few weeks my youngest will be leaving to go to college. To be exact she will be 8 hours away from us. While this is a passage of life and also an exciting step its also something hard and very emotional.
The exciting part…
When you bring a child into this world you rarely think about the day they will leave home and go off to college yet everything you do is to prepare them for this moment. Every teaching, punishment, and even quiet moments are moments for us to lead them to the point that they can stand on their own in the big world outside of the loving care of Mom and Dad. I am very excited to see what She will do in the world how she will make her impact and how God will use her outside of our care. A few years ago we did the same with our son sending him off knowing that we had prepared him the best we could. While we certainly made our fair amount of mistakes with both our kids I am certain we prepared them the best we could and prayed hard to send them off prepared. Because of that reason I am excited to see the huge impact she (and he) will have, is having, and how God will use them. It’s exciting because I know the type of person she is. I see the potential and the gifts just waiting to be let loose from her. The training and education she will earn will help define that ministry and the calling God has perfectly planned for her. How can that not be exciting?
It’s sad to think that our primary goal of raising kids is now finished. All my life (and I do mean all of my life from the age of 10) all I wanted to do was raise my children, and to be a father. I know that my job as Dad will truly never end it just changes to a different type of role. That change however, is difficult to handle at times. When she no longer needs things from you like she did or wants to spend more time with a young man then she does with you. I know all these things are good and healthy but as a dad they are sad too!
This redefinition of the parent role is rarely talked about. Maybe it’s just me who struggles with this and there is no one else does but I do! It’s hard to go from primary care giver to a supporter and encourager of a child. See for years our goal was to train and guide a young heart. The bible calls it “training up”. What I have found is that training up a child is easier to do when they are under your wings then when they are out stretching their own. I am learning how to do this and as I said it’s not easy but it reminds me I need to always be with Christ. See the same God who saved me when I was 16 years old will save me and teach me in these new days of life too. Instead of praying to ask how to raise our children we know ask for the strength and ability to know when and how to help them. Our roles have changed but Gods has not. He is unchanging always loving and always there for us!
My role of dad maybe changing but my role as a prayer warrior for my children is going to another level. We have since day one prayed for our kids. My wife and I do so every day and night. Asking God to lead and direct them when they were under our care and even more so when they are out on their own. See ultimately the role may be changing but at the same time it stays the same. While sometimes sad times there is also reason to be encouraged and excited. We are in many ways seeing the prayers that we prayed for both of our kids coming true today. There are still many that have not but in due time I believe our God will answer those too!
As I said earlier as excited as I am, I am not ready for this stage of life. For the first time in 20 plus years my wife and I will be without kids at home… Empty nesters. Part of me is also excited for this redefinition of our relationship part of me is nervous and honestly part of me is sad. Our relationship has always first been about God, then each other and finally about our kids. My wife and I have always believed that we needed to have a strong relationship to be godly parents. In that light we have always focused on having a relationship with each other outside of our children. Having said that this is truly something different. Our relationship is also changing. We no longer have the stories of what the kids did today etc.. Instead we have each other. If we are honest any couple with kids know that a large percentage of time is spent discussing the kids! The empty nest stage requires you to focus more on each other. While that is truly something I look forward to it is something different.
Will she like me? Will she like spending time with just me? What are we going to do with all of our time? All of these are questions that go through my mind. I must say that I face all of them with excitement and a nervous expectation of what this different life is going to be like. We started a few months ago talking about new hobbies that we would do together. I am sure the ministry and her job will do well in keeping what we think will be a large amount of time at a minimum, but we are planning.
I am learning much through this stage of life. Remembering many things of what God has taught me and facing the unknown with a huge drive to follow Him. Isn’t interesting how these new stages of life causes us to go back to the one who knows all things?
So as I wrap I am not sure that I wrote this for anyone else but me. I often find comfort and clarity in putting words to paper and I guess I needed to do this for myself. If in some way it has helped you great. Through all of this I have learned again that God is the answer to every situation in life. I have once again learned that I need to lean more into Him. Funny coming from a Pastor but sometimes (OFTEN!!!!!) even Pastors need reminded of this. I have also learned that there are many things in relationships and parenting that are not spoken about enough. I am sure in the future what I have learned will come out in future writings and sermons. As in most situations I face in life I thank God I have experienced this so that one day I can help another with this stage of life. Blessed to be a blessing!
A special note to my son and daughter:
To both of my children. You both are unique God given treasures. Even though shortly you both will be far away from us. Your mother and I love you more than you will ever know. You were created by a wonderful God who has many wonderful plans for you! I am honored to have the role I do and getting first hand to see each of you grow. While you may not always be right there for me or your mom to hold and hug we love you and will always be praying that God will direct, protect, and guide you in every step of your life! While we may not be together every day our love for you always will be! Keep seeking Him. Keeping striving forward to be the best servant of God that you can be. All the while we will be here supporting and loving you in this new and old role of life! Love your greatest supporters…Mom and Dad!