Much of parenting is a tug between release and rescue.
I watched it unfold the other day in the ladies restroom. A mom went in with her preschooler who insisted she could do it by herself.
“Are you sure?” the mother questioned.
“I do it,” came the persistent reply.
The mother closed the stall door and stood there holding it, waiting. Not ten seconds later, a little voice piped up. “Mommy, can you help me?”
Oh, it took me back. I chuckled because it was only a few short years ago that I was right there.
The slow release has picked up speed in the last few years. High school graduation, overseas mission trips, a college diploma and landing the first job.
And despite the pulls of release that my heart is absorbing, every now and again I get to rescue. Monday, with white space on my calendar, I sat down to a stack of paperwork. Just as I started working, I got a phone call.
“Mom, I need my social security card.”
“Can I scan it to you?” I asked.
“No, I have to have the card. Can you meet me?” she asked, stressed at the rush of getting to the job orientation. And then, “Just bring my whole file.”
The file?! She wanted me to give her the whole file?
I could feel a shift in the tectonic plates of my life.
I’d written her name on the center cut 22 years ago and filed it in the R’s. I had carefully kept every pediatric exam record, every shot record, her birth certificate, social security card, test scores, critical high school papers and the passport guarded in the file.
When she sat for her driving test, got her first job, started dual enrollment and applied to college, I carefully pulled the documents needed and then refiled them. I have seven of these folders, one for each child, an archive of every important milestone in their lives.
“Sure, I’ll bring you the file.” Life post college, on her real own, is launching. She’ll have her own benefits, shop her own car insurance, make her doctors’ appointments and keep her own file.
Oh sweet girl, it’s time you keep the file. But there are other critical things we also hand you — 22 years of teaching and imperfectly modeling the most critical information you need. How I pray these are the archives you take from our home.
#1) Trust God. Even when it looks unreasonable. God’s ways are so much higher than our ways but His sheep know His voice and you will hear Him tell you “this is the way, walk in it.” And then be prepared to be amazed.
#2) The blessings of obedience far surpass any supposed sacrifice. Whatever you may be giving up will be dwarfed by the abundance of obeying God. It will cause you to wonder why you ever questioned obedience in the first place. And its corollary: disobedience has consequences, usually greater than we imagine. The lie says we can get away with a little bit. God is a good shepherd who loves us too much for that.
#3) Wait for God. This is so important. Do not rush ahead with a solution. The wait is where our heart is tested and lessons are planted deep. Do we really trust God? His answer is perfect and His timing is impeccable. He is never late (but rarely early).
#4) Not every open door is from God. You want to know God’s will? Stay in His Word, stay in prayer and you will hear from Him.
#5) About seeking God’s will: Keep doing the last thing God told you until He tells you different. We humans get restless. We want to revisit decisions again and again. Stay the course until God tells you something different.
#6) Take every question to God. “Faith may not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.” (Elisabeth Elliot)
#7) Honor God with the first of your increase. Your first and best. I hardly need to tell you this one because you have taught me. You have kept an open hand. Don’t make it a line item when there’s money left over. God’s economy far surpasses what our eyes see. See #1 and #2.
I love you. I love your heart, your outrageous compassion for others, your tremendous generosity. You’ve taught me enormous lessons. I love your hunger for God and your contagious sunshine. I love your brave curiosity, your authenticity, the unguarded way you pursue friendships and relationships. I’m so very proud of your hard work and of how you have pushed through these last 4 years after your dad’s death. He was our earthly rock.
We will forever share this: your dad was the first man of our dreams.
Here’s your file sweet girl. I cannot wait to see all that you add to it.
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