Have you ever imagined that moment when you leave your child at college? I pictured the occasion many times this past summer.
All too soon the day arrived. We traveled to the city of Oxford, just west of London.
I had forty-eight hours to turn my son’s dorm room into a home before an ocean separated us for the next few months.
In some ways I achieved my goal. I purchased new towels, I made the bed with fresh sheets and puffed up pillows, even though he told me he could, and I knew that. I explained the differences between a USA and a UK washing machine, and stocked an assigned shelf in the shared refrigerator with his favorite food and easy-to-heat meals.
In other ways I failed to do what I planned.
I left him with only a wad of bank notes and not the security of his own bank account. I didn’t have time to buy him a bicycle—the preferred mode of transport in Oxford. And, I ran out of time to help him find a student-filled, thriving church family.
When my nervous teen received a rough reply from the registrar at check-in, I wanted to snap back “Can’t you be a bit nicer?! This is my son I’m leaving in your hands.” But I held my tongue.
I drove up to the barrier that blocked my way to his residence hall. The dreaded moment had arrived. He climbed out of the car clutching a drying rack and a bag of last-minute groceries.
“No need to come in, Mom,” he said.
I understood the message behind these words. Neither of us knew how this farewell would play out.
“Wait,” I said, climbing out of the car. In the darkness I reached up on tiptoes, and put my arms around his neck. He stooped down. He held me tightly.
“I love you very much,” I whispered.
“I love you, too” he replied.
Then he was gone. I watched his silhouette walk toward the building until he was out of sight.
All those summer days I looked across the kitchen at him and feared this parting. On nights I tossed and turned, worrying about this next step. Now, it was here.
And, to my surprise, it was okay. There were no tears—just a strong feeling of reassurance deep inside me. I knew he had this. I knew I could do this.
These three beliefs will help you and your child move steadily toward that day when you both will walk boldly into the future:
1. Trust that your time and energy are worth it.
I had taught him well, not perfectly, and always sprinkled with love. I had spent many years equipping him for stepping out on his own. Now it was paying off.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)
Our hard work does not go to waste.
If you’re in the middle of child-rearing, know your investment is worthwhile.
There is a reward for putting aside your own aspirations to supervise hours of homework, read bedtime stories, wipe runny noses, and remind your children to pick up their toys for the umpteenth time.
2. Pray passionately, for there is power in prayer.
I prayed, too. Often. Many times in the morning when my children went off to school, frequently in the night as I lay fretting.
When you find yourself worrying, remember to pray. Consider adopting a legacy of prayer for your family. There is power in the generations of a mother’s, a grandmother’s, and a great-grandmother’s prayers. I know this from experience. And, prodigals can be prayed home.
Believe in prayer, not probable outcomes.
3. Embrace truth, and fight fear.
My mind had been filled with fears for the safety of my child. But, fear holds us hostage instead of freeing us to believe in what we hope for. Honestly, how often do our fears actually become a reality? Things usually turn out better than expected.
Fear is real, but God’s Truth is more real. Do not fear, the Bible tells us over and over again. Hold tight to God’s promises, and release your worries to him. Expect the best; don’t fear the worst.
Believe in the Truth and not in the lies.
In a few weeks time I will have the chance to go and see my son for a weekend. I’m looking forward to our time together and this time I will be better prepared for that moment.
How are you preparing for that moment? Or, what did you discover if you’ve already experienced it?
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This week I am linking up with Suzie Eller at #LiveFree, Kim Cunningham at #LittleThingsThursday, Faith at #MommyMoments, Crystal Storms at #IntentionalTuesday, Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart and Deb Wolf at #FaithnFriends
Rachel, great encouragement today! I’m not there yet, but I think you connect so well to a moment many women are definitely dealing with. Visiting today from Suzie Eller’s #livefreeThursday.
Rachel this is beautiful and such encouragement. This is something I worry about as a new stepmom of two boys and a girl. I never planned on having children in my life, and now I find myself worrying about who and how they grow up to be. Thank you for your tips and for sharing this story.
I am positive God gave you step children to raise because he knows they are in good, safe, and godly hands with you. Enjoy the journey.
Rachel, this is such a valuable post. Such a great story you tell, and such wisdom in your main points and illustrations. I can so relate because we dropped my son off at college 2 months ago! We’re going to visit him day after tomorrow. (I live in Turkey, but we actually relocated to America for 9 months to be just 2 hours away his first year.)
I can understand your decision to relocate. How wonderful that you could. I hope you had a great visit with your son last week.
This post reminded me of the times I left my two at college. They both went to out of state schools. They weren’t across the ocean but it sure felt like it! Like you, I prayed a lot and constantly leaned on what was true. They both continue to live out of state but they are doing well so that makes me feel good.
Looking forward to publishing your post all about your experience, Kim.
I love this. Brought back many memories. You gave great advice and important reminders. When we’ve done our jobs we’ve done it for this very moment. Thanks so much for linking up with Faith ‘n Friends Blog Hop! Blessings to you!
Beautiful. I don’t look forward to that day, but I know it is a necessary day.
I’m sure you’ll find yourself well equipped and prepared when the day arrives. Stay strong.
Rachel, I think you were more prepared than you give yourself credit for. Years of investing and praying and believing the best more than made up for the little that didn’t get done. Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday on Intentionally Pursuing. : )
Thanks Crystal, for your words of encouragement and wisdom.