“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
These words of Solomon are true. I just wish he would’ve mentioned that some of those seasons would require duct tape. A heads up on this would’ve helped.
In this particular season, it’s not the kids that need the duct tape. It’s The Mister and I. After taking our oldest son to college last Saturday, we’re needing something to hold us together.
Although his decision to live on campus came at the eleventh hour, I thought I’d had time to prepare myself. After all, it wasn’t like he was just venturing into the collegiate world. It wasn’t even like he was home all that much, what with working two jobs and maintaining an active social life.
For the last two years, he’d been living at home and commuting to IUSB. By spring of his sophomore year, he’d decided that a degree in his chosen field would require a switch to a Christian college, and he began making arrangements to transfer to Bethel College.
We were excited about the move and agreed that it was an excellent choice. We gave him our support and blessing, thrilled that doors were opening for him.
Then came Saturday, move-in day for incoming freshmen and transfers. Suddenly, we found ourselves in a college dorm room, watching our oldest son and three others arrange their belongings. We walked the paths of the beautiful campus in a daze, unsure of how we’d gotten here.
Where had the time gone? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were kissing his plump cheeks for the first time, marveling at his blue eyes, and breathing in his newborn scent? Wasn’t it mere days ago that he learned to pedal a trike and lost his first tooth? Or took his first swimming lesson and attended story hour at the library? Where, oh where had the years gone?
Looking at him now, so tall and handsome, I saw many milestones we’d experienced together. I heard the prayers he’d offered as a two-year-old, asking God to “send a baby to my house.” I saw the first-grade boy who picked flowers on the playground and gave them to his teacher on the first day of school.
I saw him singing heartily in a first-grade musical. I saw him barely singing in a middle school one. I could see him at his baptism, coming up out of the water to be greeted with a hug, a kiss, and a towel by his father.
In my mind’s eye, I could picture him, holding his newest brother while reading a book. There he was, too, red cast on his arm after a scooter accident. Then again, face beaming, after having been elected to student council. And once more, driving out the lane by himself for the first time.
I saw him in Panther red and black, long legs eating up the course at a cross country meet. For a split second, I was track side again, shouting encouragement as he flashed past. Then there he was in a black robe and a hat with tassels, entering the Panther Pit as Pomp and Circumstance played.
So many prayers. So much time. So many kisses and laughter and tears. So many conversations. So much invested in this one boy who somehow, in the blink of an eye, had become a man.
Walking across the campus, I felt such excitement for him. What experiences he would have! What memories he would make. What a work the Lord would do in his heart during his time here.
Looking at the other students and families there, I felt the slightest twinge of envy. For a social butterfly that would have thrived on campus life, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, I got married and had babies who were now going off to experience what I never would. And that was okay.
We are, in spite of our sadness, thrilled and grateful that our son has the opportunity to attend a Christian school. We were immeasurably blessed to hear the heart of a professor who, with her husband, walked away from far more lucrative offers to obey God’s call to invest together in the lives of Bethel students.
Hearing Senior VP Dennis Engbrecht say, in his address to incoming parents, “I love this generation,” was wonderfully reassuring to at least two parents who were listening that day.
There were, I admit, some tears by that reflection pond. Dr. Dobson’s words, “Parenting isn’t for cowards,” hold even more meaning today. If you doubt this, just try taking your child to a college, near or far – and driving away. Releasing your flesh and blood into the hands of God is frightening, exhilarating, healthy, and tremendously significant all at once.
For our young man, the time is right. The place is right. We think he’s ready.
Go with God, son.
Rhonda Schrock’s column appears every Monday. While this is a big transition time for her family, she is finding precious additions for the “Thousand Gifts” list she wrote about last week. Seeing brothers hug goodbye. Texts from a father who misses his son. Texts from a son who still needs laundry advice. These are a few of her favorite things. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.