“My kids are at the age now where every good thing that happens for them is bittersweet,” I lamented to a friend recently. With three young adult/older teenage children, exciting opportunities abound: college acceptances, semesters abroad, internships in another city…you get the idea. Am I excited about the wonderful opportunities my children have? Of course! Am I a proud mama? You bet! I’m certainly not wishing they were unable or unwilling to do anything but sit on the couch with the remote. As parents, we work hard to help our children grow and mature. We strive to teach them what they need to know, be, and do to be independent; children leaving the nest (hopefully a little at a time) is the end game. Yet every flight away from the nest brings them farther from their Mom, and I don’t mean just geographically.
This weekend, I had the privilege of attending a church service in a different city where my daughter became a member of that congregation. My heart was happy as I spoke to women and men there who know and love her, including the wonderful couple who extended their home to her when she needed a place to live for the summer. She had special friends there to support her as well. So much “sweet”. But there was just a little bit of “bitter” sprinkled in because it seemed, well, kind of final. I imagine parents have felt this way from the beginning of time.
In the Bible, God is referred to as our Father, drawing on the parallels between being the child of earthly parents and being a child of God. I am reminded not only of the love and care a child receives from a parent, but also of privileges like protection, rights to an inheritance, or the opportunity to carry on a legacy. There is one area, though, where I see a significant difference; as we “grow up” in our faith, instead of moving farther away from our heavenly Father, we become closer and more dependent on Him.
The more times I experience life with total dependence on God, the more I see how much better it is than depending on myself or others; however the path toward spiritual maturity is not smooth and steady. For me it has been rocky at best and I often find myself taking two steps forward and one step back. I don’t always get it right. I just know that that the Bible tells me to “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8 So I keep praying, reading scripture, and spending time with other believers because these are the things that help me remember to draw near to God as often as possible and ultimately to grow and mature in my relationship with Him. I’m glad the end goal is not to fly the coop and that I will never be too old to live under the protection of God’s wings.
“For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” Psalm 63:7