We move our oldest daughter to college today. longer will she be under our roof and subject to our rules. No longer will we be in her physical presence to watch over her, guide and direct her. No longer will she have to do what is expected because she’s right under our noses.
She is free.
Free to choose life either on God’s terms or her own. Free to serve Him with all her heart, mind, strength and soul, or free to go her own way.
Doubts and concerns pepper my thoughts. What if she doesn’t like her university or major? What if the stress of adjusting to life on her own and a more challenging academic load is more than she expected? What if she and her roommate don’t get along?
My doubts aren’t about her ability to handle it, but mine. Really, underneath the outward circumstances of my concerns is a far deeper cry of a mother’s heart: Have we raised her in church or in Christ?
What will happen when she questions? When she doubts? When the Lord uses disappointment and hardship to make her more dependent on Him? To show Himself all He wants to be to her? Will she find comfort and assurance in Him when she returns to her room and is alone? Will she find in her heavenly Father so much more than her earthly father ever could be even though he’s daddy in the flesh? Will she “pick up the phone” and call on the name of the Lord in prayer?
My emotions are all over the place. I can only imagine hers are too.
Tears threaten even as I write. Not only tears of sadness, as I will miss daily having her here. I will miss her beautiful smile, tender heart, wit, and crazy questions. The way she calls me “Mother” when she’s exasperated with me. The drama in the stories she tells and the altercations with her sisters. Her sweet hugs. And yes, the tremendous help she is to me.
My tears are also tears of joy for this next season in her life when she will experience the challenge and thrill of what it means to walk by faith, totally dependent on the Lord because He is the only one there when she needs His answers. Joy for her knowing how exciting it is to follow Him and discover His faithfulness and His plans for her. Joy for the friends she’ll make, the experiences she’ll have, and how He’ll work everything together for good for her because she loves Him and is called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Joy for the thoughts He thinks toward her, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give her a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). Joy that when she seeks the Lord, she will find Him.
I am not excited for her to be gone, but I am excited to see what the Lord has in store. Excited to see her moor herself to Christ because He makes Himself real to her outside of His realness to us. Excited for her to experience what it means to live directly under His authority because He has drawn her there, not because it’s what we’ve told her to do all her life.
It’s time to witness the result of the counsel I give any new homeschooling parent wrestling with making sure they make the right curriculum choices. My answer is spiritual.
Scholastics are important, and we adhere to a rigorous academic schedule, but to me, the most important measure of my children’s time under my instruction, whether they are schooled at home or in school, is what happens when they leave. Not in respect to SAT or ACT scores, class ranking, the college to which they are accepted, their GPA, degree or job. No, success to me is a child who leaves the authority of our home and transitions seemlessly to the authority of Christ.
One who leaves the nest but doesn’t leave their faith.
I can’t say I remember much about the day I moved away for college. I’m pretty sure my ruling emotion was pure elation at finally being free. Sadly, the freedom I desired only resulted in bondage to sin.
I can only pray the freedom she pursues will be true freedom: freedom in Christ Jesus.
Having never done this before, I don’t know much besides the logistics of getting her settled, being on the other end of the line when she calls, regularly refilling her check book balance, seeing her as much as we can, and loving her like crazy from a distance.
And I know to:
1. Trust in the Lord, for it is He who saves. It is His grace that will continually turn her heart toward Him.
2. Pray. Often and hard.
3. Listen. Answer her calls, her questions, her cries for direction and help.
4. Answer. Be there, not to give the answers, but to point her to Christ, who holds every answer.
I know she will do well. The question is, did we? No matter what, I thank God for His grace. It is sufficient.
Lord, as we learn each day to be more wholly Yours, overcome our shortcomings with the grace You extend our children, and make them wholly Yours, too.