My hubby wrote this last week when M left for school, I had to share his awesome writing!
“Weeds…Or Rose Stems?”
If a tiny sparrow cannot fall without His knowledge, nor an empire be raised without His aid, then who do we think we are? What an arrogant lot we have become.
Today epitomized the phrase, “bitter sweet”, as we sent one of our own out into the world. Much like a mother bird nudges her fledglings out of the nest for the first time, we are putting the strength of this child’s wings to the test. It was as if we were the police escort in a parade, peeling off onto a side street, forcing…allowing this child to continue the route of life’s parade alone. My wife and I moved a daughter into college today.
Truth be told, I wasn’t quite ready, nor prepared for this day. For several days, I had been asking myself, “Is she ready? Have I done my part, and all that I could do to prepare her for this journey?” I wasn’t ready for this because the answer to that question was “no”. Therefore, this self evaluation I was working through was causing me to have feelings of fear and doubt. Little did I know God was going to set me straight soon enough.
After tight, longer than normal hugs of sadness and well wishes from the other children, all trying to hold in their emotions, we headed Northward on our two hour journey. During the drive, my wife and daughter in the car ahead of me, my van remained silent and void of any phone conversations, radio talk shows, upbeat Christian music and the like. I use the term “silent” loosely as the thoughts that pounded my brain seemed as loud and as deafening as a late summer thunder storm. Nonetheless, I was left alone with my feelings and emotions as well as the difficult task of composing myself for the rapidly approaching time when we would actually drive away, leaving her there alone. I was resolute in the quest of not allowing myself to become overly emotional for fear of upsetting her and making a very happy and joyful experience something negative or sad.
As I drove, up into the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, any feelings of sadness were overshadowed by one thought that kept ringing in my head…”I can’t believe this. Look how far this child has come.” With each curve in the road I rounded and each mile marker I put behind me, I became increasing amazed at the significance and truly wonderful experience we were engaged in. So wonderful because there was a time when I wasn’t sure this dream we had for her would actually come to fruition.
Seven years ago on Christmas Eve, only the second night we had slept in our new home, we welcomed this child into our family and committed to God that we would raise her as our own. Little did we know that the nervous excitement we felt those first few months would turn to fear, anger, confusion, desperation, uncertainty and grief in the years to come. Even worse, there came a time when the situation was so serious that the future of our family as well as her place in it was in question. Hence the reason for the flood of deep, heartfelt emotions and the shear amazement at the day’s coming events. On several occasions, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and the sheepish grin that seemed to be fixed on my face…and I was pleased.
Upon arrival at the college, we all busied ourselves with unloading, unpacking and the general tasks that accompany “getting settled in”. When the work began to lessen and come to an end, I felt a lump forming in my throat. To avoid shedding a tear or two, I promptly offered to head to Walmart for several forgotten necessities and to get her stocked up on a few food items to fill her new mini-fridge. She appreciated the thought, so off I went.
After laboring to climb the seemingly endless hill behind her dorm and the half mile trek that lay between me and where I had parked, I received one of the most significant whisperings from the Lord I had ever received.
Pulling out of the parking lot, I began feeling really good about what we had done to get this child where she was. I was so proud we had not given up when that seemed the most logical option and was more than willing to accept any praise or credit, if you will, for the blessed situation we found ourselves in. I thought to myself, “Wow! We did it. Look what a great job we did with her. It was tough, but we are some seriously talented and gifted parents. She was so lucky to have us.” It was at that moment that my perspective on parenting was forever changed.
At the height of my joy and self glorification session, the Lord spoke to me in that still, small, yet very powerful and clear voice. It was as if I audibly heard Him say, “How much do you think you really had to do with all of this? Do you actually believe this accomplishment and growth in her life was due to your abilities as a Father? Have you become so prideful and caught up in what you think you can do that you don’t recognize or won’t acknowledge what I am doing? I am the one who makes all things new!” I was stunned…frozen. I instantly thought of the scripture, “he who exalts himself will be humbled; he who humbles himself will be exalted”. There was no doubt, nor wiggle room now…I was indeed being humbled.
It was then that all the questions, concerns and frustrations about parenting became extremely clear to me. These children are not mine. They are but a gift from God, who has blessed us with their lives and entrusted us with their care. Of course, I knew all of this already and probably couldn’t count the times I had uttered those truths to other parents, thinking I was showering them with such wise council from me, the professional father that I am. However, now, I really got it!
All the prideful happiness I had been feeling quickly turned to guilt as I realized how selfish and ungodly my thoughts had been. Thankfully, while the guilt never completely disappeared, the happiness returned, as did my sheepish smile. Just enough of the guilt remained to keep me humble and by the time I arrived back at the college, I was once again amazed and happy, only this time, I was more consumed with praise and thanksgiving. As a selfish, sinful man, I had neglected to give God the glory for all He had done in our lives. I was giving myself the glory that was without question, due Him.
When the time we had all been dreading was finally at hand, we gave her a hug, told her how much we loved her and how proud we were of her and headed quickly for the door. With that, in a brief moment, our lives as well as our family, were changed forever.
Much like our morning jaunt, the drive home was understandably still, somewhat bitter sweet. I kept torturing myself by looking at a picture I had taken on my phone just before we left. While the picture shows an eighteen-year-old young lady, sitting on her clean, neatly made bed, beside her little desk not yet cluttered with semester outlines, campus parking tickets or unfinished term papers, with a smile on her face, ready to write the next chapter in her book of life…I couldn’t help but see something else. I saw one of my little girls, sitting on a bed I could no longer tell her to make, beside a desk I could not go through to make sure her homework was done, with a very frightened and fake smile on her face, not at all ready to face this big bad world without her dad. However, giving it a second glance, I now see a beautiful young lady God had blessed us to know and love, growing in her faith in Christ, safe in her true father’s embrace, standing at the doorway of whatever life she chooses to lead, who was never mine to keep. A precious life in which God had allowed me to be His hands and feet and most of all, a reason to glorify Him.
In life and especially in the context of parenting, depending on our focus and perspective, we really do have the ability to see what we want to see. Often times, we look at what lies before us and we see weeds. Weeds that are unsightly, out of control and that we are going to have to weave, chop and mow our way through. That is if we are looking straight ahead and from our earthly perspective. We see weeds that WE are going to have to deal with and that WE are going to have to get under control. If you can relate to this analogy, I urge you to give this a try.
Turn you gaze towards heaven. Let go of the idea that you are in control and realize your insignificance when you stand alone. Focus your eyes, your thoughts, your actions on Christ. For when you do this…when you look up…your view will indeed change. For what you thought were weeds were never really weeds at all. They are rose stems, crowned with the most beautiful, amazing, colorful roses you could ever imagine. Roses so incredible, you could never hope to grow or produce them on your own.
Train your children in the way they should go and don’t try to claim them as your own. Accept, acknowledge and take very seriously the blessing of being their parent. Realize what a true gift they are, especially when the “blessing” seems more of a “burden”. Don’t think for a moment you know better than their creator as to what’s best for them. Understand that the struggles only build strength they will one day need. Know that you are not alone. Present them to the Lord and let Him ensure that your “weeds” are indeed “rose stems”…just as they were all along.
written by : JKW