In three weeks, our household is going to change drastically.
Instead of maintaining four vehicles, we will dwindle to two, allowing me to pull into the garage without weaving through our private summer obstacle course called "the driveway."
Our grocery bill will plummet like the first drop of a roller coaster. The telephone will ring less. Toilet paper will no longer be on the endangered species list. Best of all, my little dog, a walking aggregation of nerves, will no longer be launched into outer space when our kids' friends ring the doorbell. (Her rockets fire before "ding" becomes "dong.")
The reason for these changes? Two of our three kids are leaving for college -- my son, Jordan, for the first time.
Cue the violins, because no matter how much I'll appreciate the pleasant changes, when I see their empty chairs at dinner and empty beds each night, I will struggle with just that -- emptiness.
I know that life is transitional and that the ultimate goal of rearing kids is to guide them to complete independence. Still, I long for permanence I can count on no matter how many years pass, no matter how my circumstances -- my job, my interests or my role as mom changes. I need an anchor.
Happily, just such a mainstay of peace has been mine over the years, even when my footing was unsure, or my heart raced with fear, or ached with sadness -- as when we left our daughter at college that first time. My anchor has been the constant friendship of Jesus.
In all of my ups and downs, relationship struggles, personal failures and insecurities, I have not been alone. When my head hit my pillow at night, I knew I was under his watchful eye. When I awoke to face another problematic day, (is there any other kind?) I trusted that he knew the paths I would take and would even order my steps if I submitted to him.
When I walked through fiery trials, he didn't extinguish the flames, but he held my hand through them. As a result, the purifying heat helped refine me, but more importantly, helped me know him more intimately.
As I prepared for Jordan's graduation a few weeks ago, I found a stick figure crayon drawing he made for us when he was six. On the page I had written, "Jordan wants us to keep this, even when he goes to college." And now that time is here. I did indeed keep it, treasuring the thought that as much as kids want to grow up and away, they also need an enduring love they can depend on; they need an anchor.
My greatest hope is that as my children grow more independent, they will grow more dependent on the one who loves them unconditionally and unflinchingly, through all of their personal trials. Despite the best of intentions and efforts, no parent, spouse or child of their own will ever be able to completely or perfectly fulfill their needs.
As a result of his faithfulness, I am able to release my grip on my son and daughter, and the only clinging I'll do will be to Jesus, my steadfast anchor and friend.
Linda Crow, of Muncie, is the mother of three teenagers and works in youth ministry. Visit her blog at www.2nd-cup-of-coffee.blogspot.com.