Four years ago, I wrote a post about the struggle I experienced as I acknowledged that my oldest child was about to enter high school. https://stephaniejthompson.com/2012/07/13/as-my-child-grows-i-am-learning-to-surrender-control/ Disappointment surfaced as I began to realize that all of the dreams I had for him before he graduated from high school may not come to fruition… at least not in the tangible ways I had envisioned. The Grand Canyon, Williamsburg, Gettysburg, Niagara Falls, Mt. Rushmore, mission trips, and experiencing other countries all held spots on my dream destination list for him. How could he have reached this milestone already?
The “Ifs” quickly pressed on me: “If we would have had more money”, “if we hadn’t faced health issues”, “If……..” I felt like time was trekking forward and I was grieving the loss of expectations. My expectations. And while I wish some of those items on the list could have been checked off, I am aware that God’s hand at work in his life far exceeds any of my expectations.
Today, he entered his last year of high school. And you know what? I was not the mess that I thought I would become on this day. In fact, I embraced it. And I prayed God’s blessings on it. This summer, he had a ton of fun. Amusement parks, movies, lazy hot days drinking cold beverages, family gatherings, a life-changing, church youth group event all grabbed a spot in his life. And throughout those weeks, I noticed something: he’s ready for a new season-in life.
Gone are the days of finding joy in a trek to the park, splashing in the sprinkler, a ride in the wagon(he wouldn’t fit in it anyway). It’s as it should be. Scripture bears witness to Jesus’s life as a boy: ” And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people” (Luke 2:52 MSG).
Present are days of spontaneous, thought provoking discussions, seeing his maturity unfold in various moments of life, watching his identity as a follower of Christ affect his choices and questions about the future, and experiencing new journeys together.
It’s been said of those early days of child rearing that the days are long and the years are short. I don’t know if he would agree with that quote but, as a parent, it rings oh so true. In those “short” years, I have seen God’s hand at work in answers to my hopes and prayers for him. Sometimes, those answers came through “big” moments such as his decision to be baptized, receiving awards for musical skills or grades. Often, my blessings came through the witness of his resilience and hope through challenging moments, words of wisdom or clarity, the revelation of character strengths which unfold in ordinary moments of life. All of which point to the big picture that is being weaved; of which these past 18 years are just a small part.
I find comfort in knowing that many parents have traveled this journey before me. I’m not referring just to the sisterhood of moms that I know, but sisters of long ago that had to let go of their kids and let God navigate their lives. Sisters like Hannah (mother of Samuel), Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist), Mary and Eunice (mother of Timothy). Each of them came to a spot when they had to acknowledge that their children ultimately belonged to their God.
I’ve realized that this year is just as significant as any other year of his life with us. Yes, it is his Senior year and there will be unique milestones to mark. But, God will continue to be at work just like in previous years. He will “mature, grow up in both body and Spirit, and be blessed by both God and people.”
And, like Mary, I will “treasure these things in my heart (Luke 2:52).”