This is a good thing; it really is. Bay & I had raised them for that day they would leave. We knew the day would come, because it came for us. Personally, I thought I had prepared myself mentally for that day. I didn't want them to just fly from the nest; I wanted them to soar...and soar they did (far away). It would have been unnatural for them to want to stay at home for the rest of their lives (although the same town would have been nice). Now, I realize that in today's world, things have changed. Kids stay home longer, for multiple reasons, once they finish college. However, the end result is that they will go out on their own one day, and our nests will be empty. Yet, when my nest emptied, I wasn't as prepared as I thought. Oh, I sure enjoyed less laundry, less grocery-bill, the extra time with my honey, a cleaner house, and time to do more ministry; but gone was the chatter, the spontaneous drop-in friends who always arrived around dinner-time, the long chats together in the hot tub, the once-a-week family night when we all shared what Jesus was doing in our lives, the hectic rush to activities, and continual laughter. It seemed strangely quiet at my house. I MISSED THEM; and, there was a void that caused an ache-in-my-soul that never seemed to go away. I never really mentioned it to them. They never really noticed (an ache-in-the-soul isn't very obvious), so they never apologized for leaving...
As they each left home, I clung to a passage of Scripture that the pastor preached the day we left our first child standing outside her dorm, sobbing, as we drove off leaving her almost 9 hours behind us (keep in mind, I also cried the 9 hours home, only to call her the minute we walked in the door to find she was cheerfully bonding with her roommates, just as she should). Here are the words from the verses:
Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; and I will...bless you...and you shall be a blessing..." Genesis 12:1-2.
This is what I remember from that message:
1) God calls our children to leave home.
2) He calls them to leave, so they can receive a blessing. They can't receive it if they don't leave.
3) That blessing includes their calling to glorify him, by living out their purpose - the "why" of their life (they will be a blessing!).
Over the next eight years, as we watched all three leave home, go off to college, and start new lives, I repeated the following mantra: By letting them leave, I allow them to receive. By letting them leave, I allow them to receive. By letting them leave, I allow them to receive. You get the idea...it was all about putting on the right "perspectacles."
I wish that life wasn't so hard. Each child has had their share of tough-spots. Hurts. Messiness. Shame. Pain. Difficulties. As a mom, I want to do what I always did when they were little: clean up the mess, wipe away the tears, fix the difficult. Nope - can't do that anymore, not really. From afar, I hurt when they hurt, pray hard, and rejoice with them when they rejoice. I'm just not always THERE...and, yes, I still miss them. Yet, by letting them leave, I allowed them to receive all the Lord had for them through the difficulty, through the pain. They keep on leaning into Him. I see them being blessed by Him...more importantly, though, I see them living out the why-of-their-lives. I see them blessing others! Nothing brings me greater joy!
P.S. A few weeks back, Bay and I were speaking in Montana. One quiet Sunday afternoon, I received a call from one of my girls. Sometimes they call with no real reason. This time, this one had a reason in mind. It's not long until her first leaves home. Two years will go fast. Already, she's trying to prepare herself for That Day. The purpose of her call, though? To apologize for leaving me. (Smile) There was something VERY cathartic about that! (Again, smile!)