It’s back-to-school season and as September approaches, the vision for the upcoming school year is still unclear. It certainly promises to be weird and difficult, on track to round out a tumultuous 2020. Will it be 100% virtual, in-person, synchronous/asynchronous or a hybrid version? We’re still not sure. I don’t even understand what the various options involve, to be honest. Parents and teachers are scrambling to figure out their plans and we don’t seem to be making much progress. Things have been very chaotic and worrisome. This year will certainly mark a milestone (I’m tempted to think “millstone”), or at least a major shift in education, come what may.
We’ve had some important personal school milestones and accomplishments this year as well. Our eldest daughter just graduated from college, although she and her fellow classmates were unable to have a formal ceremony. She finally received her diploma in July via post and rumor has it that her university will invite this year’s graduating seniors to walk in next Spring’s graduation ceremony with the Class of 2021.We are so proud of her, but her senior year and college experience certainly didn’t end as expected.
Our son also just moved into his university apartment for freshman year. Yesterday I sang lullabies and tucked him into his crib with his favorite stuffed toy. Today he’s at least a foot taller than me, shaves, drives and helps me with electronics. One day he was small, I blinked, and now he is grown. It happened so fast and is strange, wonderful and bittersweet. It’s so hard to let your kids out into the world when they were once all yours to nurture and protect. Hard not to worry while praying continuously that they’ll adjust and thrive.
As I think about what college has in store for our son, I can’t help but reflect on what God has done through our daughter’s college experience. From the very beginning as we searched for schools, I suggested private Christian colleges, but she chose a secular school well-known for its music education program. We found out later that it’s also the #2 party school in America! Despite that, she connected with various campus ministries, joined a church and pressed into the Christian community around her. She attended services, joined Bible studies, went on retreats, found support, camaraderie and cultivated lasting relationships with many friends. Her faith has grown so much; she spends hours in scripture, has a passion to serve in youth ministry and her love for the Lord is inspiring.
Thinking about how her school experience started vs. how she has grown is a marvel. I spent many long hours on the phone with her and a lot of time praying over various concerns and decisions throughout the journey. Though she faced difficult hurdles and challenges, God was with her. The lesson for me throughout this time has been to let go and recognize God’s hand. It was not unimportant which schools I personally had in mind for her, yet God was able to meet her wherever she decided to go. My influence as her mother is not unimportant – our job as parents is critical, yet God’s influence and hand in her circumstances was far greater.
In Matthew 7:11 (ESV) it says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” His plans for our children are beyond what we can comprehend, because he loves them more than we can comprehend. I’m clinging to this verse with hopeful expectation as our son begins his college career, and as our youngest daughter returns to public school – whether it’s virtual, in person or a combination of the two. God can accomplish great and unimaginable things in our lives as believers, even when we feel vulnerable and alone or wrestle with confusion and doubt. So this is my prayer for our children during these turbulent times: that they would fully trust in God and continue to pursue His will for their lives.
Paul writes in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” As believers we can trust God’s goodness and His will to work all things together for our good. “All things” often includes difficult, challenging struggles, but God is sovereign and has a master plan. His plan is often different than what we expect or hope for, but we can trust in His goodness and wisdom knowing that He purposes what is best for us.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for loving our children more than we can even imagine. Help us trust in Your plan to work all things together for good. Amen.