After a six hour drive from our home near Toronto to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, my dad let me out of the car. This was the beginning of a significant new chapter in my life—I was leaving home and going to college!
After a few hugs and “go-get-em’s,” I headed off to my new dorm room. After a couple of steps, I turned around to my dad and quipped with an up-nod, “have a good life, Dad!” I can’t remember how he actually responded to me at the time, but I do know that it was a long ride home for him—and he has reminded me of this exchange many, many times since; something along the lines of a hard but true reality.
Over the course of my lifetime, he has also had the opportunity to point out the proverbial “you just wait” in terms of raising my own children, in reference to what the next obstacle in life would be.
Leaving Us Behind
Well, this season of life is now upon me and Heidi.
Our oldest, Eliot, intends to head off to university this fall, attending Trinity Western University in Langley BC. Although not too far away, I can still hear my dad’s thoughts about what those words did to him on that day way back at Calvin, when I took a few steps towards a whole new life without him and my mom as my primary caregivers.
Heidi and I are not alone; there are many people in our community going through the same thing. The passage of our children moving into adulthood has been going on forever of course, and it will continue for a long time in the future.
Now it’s our turn—and it’s come just way too fast!
We are, of course, proud of our oldest son and his high school accomplishments and experiences. We fully trust that God has prepared him and us for this next step in his development. However, these noble thoughts and feelings don’t quite seem to lessen the gap that he will leave behind when he walks towards his new dorm room for that first time. Heidi and I want to fully celebrate and applaud him during this season of graduations, commencements, banquets, and celebrations…and yet as parents…he really is leaving us behind.
The juxtaposition of celebrating a milestone that actually represents your loved ones moving on leaves us in a perplexing spot, and yet we recognize God’s intentional design behind it all.
And I guess this is the point—God has a plan.
These plans are often not fully understood or can even cause us to pause, but we believe in a sovereign God. So we trust that He will work all things out for His Glory. I like to think He has been doing this in my own life since that day I told my dad to “have a good life” (actually God was pretty busy with this well before that moment).
Anne Lamott, one of my favourite authors, refers to this juxtaposition in her book, Almost Everything, as a paradox: “Even when things are bleak, the seeds of rejuvenation are at hand. All truth, really is paradox. And this turns out to be our reason for hope and eventual joy.”*
It’s graduation/commencement/farewell/celebration season. Let’s celebrate and honour our graduates and/or our students moving to the next grade level or campus because what God is doing and will do through each of their lives is amazing.
Let’s fully trust that God has got the future all figured out, especially when they tell us to “have a good life.”