It's a little odd beginning my welcome blog with a word on good-byes. But it is that time of year when many of my friends and co-workers are saying good-bye to their children who are leaving for college or to children who are enlisting in the military.
There is such an ache that comes with good-byes. For days or even weeks ahead of time (and occasionally months, like me) we feel a stabbing in our heart. It is real. I have felt it myself when my own child got married. I couldn't bear the thought of not kissing her in the morning or when she came home from school or work, or our goodnight kiss. If you are blessed with affection between your family members you know what I mean. But even if there weren't always kisses and hugs, if there was the respect from the child you raised, it hurts to see them leave.
So you leave the room and hide in the bathroom for a little while or run to the store real quick so nobody sees your tears and makes light of them. Because this isn't funny, this is real! Your baby is leaving home for the first time. Your little baby, the one that made you forget all the hours of labor when you held them when they were first born. You think of how you were a little afraid of bathing them the first time. What if they slipped from your hands? You kissed their precious little feet (now a size 10) and put their hands on your mouth as you smiled and cooed and told them you loved them. You could hardly wait until she was old enough to have longer hair that you could put a bow in. Or until he was old enough to fit his hand into a baseball glove.
You went to all the school plays and sent everyone their school picture every year. You made sure they bathed and brushed their teeth, and ate all their dinner before they went to bed. You helped them for endless hours with homework.
You fought and you forgave. You rewarded their good behavior, and disciplined their disrespect for you or your spouse, or their teacher or coaches, brothers and sisters, and even strangers.
You tried to instill in them a sense of worth. And now the time has come to say good-bye for a while. Yes, you can call and email and Skype, but you can't see them in your kitchen. So what do you do?
If you know God, and have raised them to know God, you take comfort knowing that He is still in charge of this loved one's life. You prayed over them as a child, and you pray over them today. In your heart you know that everything will be alright.
If you know God, but haven't had a very close relationship with Him, or if you don't know God at all, don't worry! He knows you! And He knows your child. He created that loved one just for you. He will be taking care of them, and you. He always has. All those fights that eventually wound up in hugs, all those tears that were replaced with smiles, all those worries when they got hurt or were late coming home that ended up alright, that was God taking care of you all.
If you know nothing else about God, know this. He is love. He cannot not love! That's all there is to it! He knows your heart and your pain, and your sorrows. And He wants to help you get through it. He won't make you feel bad about not knowing Him, He's ready to show you just how much He loves you. All you have to do is ask.
So it's alright to cry those tears at good-byes, the Bible says in Psalm 56:8 of the Contemporary English Version (CEV), "You have stored my tears in Your bottle and counted each of them." Put your hope in Him, He will protect your baby.
And if YOU are the one leaving for the first time, there is that great sense of adventure! "Finally, on my own!" Sometimes that excitement comes with a sense of anxiety as well. You're all grown up, but you'll miss your mommy. Don't be ashamed, I guarantee her heart will melt if you called her that today. You may wonder if you did enough for your parents while you were at home, or now feel a little regret that you had an attitude. They always bailed you out of your messes, and always forgave you. You may wonder," now that I am gone, will they still love me as much?" Of course. Now they have something else to be proud of you for. You're going to college! You're enlisting in the Military! They will have new concerns, but they believe you're up to the challenge.
Grow! Learn! Plan your future. Ask God to help you every morning. Ask Him for strength. Ask Him to protect you and your family. And above all, love Him.
So as you say good-bye and start this new chapter in your lives, let's also say hello to God's blessings for our future. His word says in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (New International Version)
Smile, life is good! God is in charge!