One of the most difficult seasons in my life was the gradual series of events leading up to my daughter’s college drop off as well as the first few weeks of her first semester.
We had already had many awkward conversations about would-be college situations. Raising a teenage daughter in general had been challenging.
One day when she was still in high school, I was certain she hated her mother and I was questioning her spiritual health and the condition of her heart, I walked into her bathroom and discovered these verses she had written in dry erase marker on her mirror:
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
I was shocked to find those verses that day, during a time of uncertainty and worry. But also, because I had just heard a remarkable speaker at a women’s event at our church give a message based on these very verses! Her message had been what needed to hear, and now God was revealing it to me again in the sweetest way, handwritten by my daughter. It was surely a sign!
He was letting me know He would see this through. I had been fixating on what I could see – the temporary. The immaturity, the rebellion, the eye-rolling. I needed to trust Him for the inward renewing He was working on day by day that I couldn’t yet see – the unseen!
That day, Jesus gave me a sneak peek of what was to come. Just the fact that this verse was written on her bathroom mirror and she was memorizing it and hiding it away in her heart was amazing indication that she was heading in the right direction.
Overall, by the time she was about to enter college, she was a spiritually grounded, normally excited, freshman girl. Why was I so worried about letting her go? Perhaps it was because I started college having been brought up in a similar background, but eventually some of the choices I made were far from God-honoring.
Would she be able to live in this place for the next four years and remain a Christian? Or would her faith falter under the weight of atheist professors and peer pressure?
Again, the evening of her freshman orientation, as I was pondering all these questions, God visibly gave me another sign. I was about to turn in for the evening, and as it so often does in Boone, NC, it came a little rain shower. Afterwards, God sent this beautiful rainbow that I could see perfectly outside my hotel. It was as if to say again, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” And I was again reminded of those verses.
Focus on the unseen. God is at work. After all, that’s what faith is, right?
Now I wish I could say that I never worried again or lost any sleep over my only daughter once she went away to college, but I did. Finally, after a couple of months of adjusting to our new normal, things did get a little easier.
Over four years have passed since freshmen orientation and my daughter graduated from college this past May, got married two weeks later (she met the love of her life through CRU – Campus Crusade for Christ), and is now a math teacher and JV cheer coach at a local high school. She has matured beyond anything I could have imagined back in Spring of 2015.
So, mamas, don’t lose heart!
There are a few things I learned along the way that I hope may help first-time freshman moms. (Some took me a little longer than others.):
1. Give your adult child the privilege of freedom. For control freaks like myself, this one took a little time. And I believe it may be even harder with a daughter. I simply wanted to know she was alive and well every day. Nothing wrong with texting or calling, but try to resist the urge to stalk, or um track them via their phone. Try to battle the temptation to hit that button. They are most likely having fun or even taking a nap. Give it plenty of time before you freak out (not that I ever did!) Otherwise, they will resent your paranoia and call you "cray". Instead, fast forward to #2.
2. Pray hard. I can’t stress this one enough. Keep a journal of your specific prayers, the big general ones like, “Lord, please help _______ to continue to follow you in college, help him/her to find good, Christian, like-minded friends to hang out with. I pray that he/she would plug in to campus organizations like CRU or Young Life, and find a Bible teaching local church with an impactful college ministry.” Pray for the small details as well. Start praying for next year now. Such as, “Lord, I don’t know the best living situation or the best roommate for ________ next year, but You do. Please work out those details.”
I prayed specifically for a 2-bedroom apartment for my son this past year so he and his friend would not have to live with a third random person. And even though we were told only a few were available and it may not happen, it DID! God answers little detailed prayers. Keep a list of your prayers and then check off and date them once God answers. It is so comforting to look back and see how He worked everything out. Trust Him in the details and you will see Him working on your behalf in your adult child’s life!
And don’t forget to pray Scripture prayers. One of my favorites is from 1 Corinthians 10:13, “Lord, when __________ is tempted, please help him/her take the way out You are so faithful to provide.” You can tailor Scripture prayers specifically for your child. What worries you most about sending them off to college? Then search those key words to find verses you can apply in your prayers. God’s Word does not return void. There is such power in praying His Word!
Lastly, we all make mistakes and we all sin. Pray that your adult child will not make any life-altering pitfalls during their college experience and trust God for the rest. And if something terrible should happen, continue to love them as Jesus loves us (in spite of our own sinfulness), and help them to process the consequences of their mistake with your unconditional love and support. Make sure you are approachable and your adult child knows there is nothing they can do that would cause you to stop loving them.
3. Keep a positive outlook. This is important for them and for you. I went through a little bit of depression after my daughter left for school. However, when we spoke, I didn’t drag her down emotionally with my sadness. I missed her terribly but eventually I embraced the new season of life. The same is happening again now that she is married and no longer living in our home. My son is about to leave for his second year at college and we will soon be down to one child in the nest again. All I can say is focus on the joy of your child growing up and maturing and spreading their wings. It may sound cliché but isn’t is better than them staying in their room playing Fortnite for the rest of their life? We raise our kids to be become independent adults and find their purpose in this world. Let’s cheer them on and rejoice in their new adventures! You will be amazed how they grow and mature in this next chapter of their lives!
There will most likely be tears on freshman move in day. (Hopefully, you can hold it together until the ride home.)
But try to embrace this new season. Instead of grieving what is behind, look forward to what’s to come. And maybe God will even give you a rainbow reminder as if to say, “Don’t lose heart, I’ve got this.”
Hang in there, Mamas! And Dads too! It will get easier!
© Christy Long 2019. All Rights Reserved.
Careful what you pray for!
I’m a big believer in praying Scripture as God’s word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). A few months ago, I ran across this psalm and had an A-ha moment. I mean, who wouldn’t want to pray this passage of blessing?
Psalm 126 The Message (MSG)
A Pilgrim Song
126 1-3 It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
“God was wonderful to them!”
God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.
4-6 And now, God, do it again—
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.
Yeah, God! Do it, again!
Let me be clear that I’m not a believer or a fan of the prosperity gospel. Nor do I view my God as some sort of genie in a bottle in order to fulfill selfish prayers for me and my family.
That’s not who He is and it’s certainly not how I should view my Heavenly Father.
However, I have seen Him do amazing, unimaginable, seemingly impossible things in my life and I know He can choose to do it again, IF it is His will.
In the past, He rained blessing on our family after a time of loss and struggle. He provided unexpected blessing during a time of despair. He supernaturally implemented a plan for me to stay home with my children when just nine months earlier it did not seem fathomable. (Just to name a few.)
To say my God is big feels like a gross understatement.
So, as we have been in a season of spending for my daughter’s wedding, I must admit these verses seemed promising. Not to sound greedy, but any extra blessing here would be great, God! If you feel like showering on us “armloads of blessing” we would really appreciate it!
Often, He doesn’t answer the way we expect Him to.
What had not occurred to me about praying the beautiful psalm of praise of remembrance and petition was that God had done great things for them after a terrible time of captivity, and they are filled with joy.
After all, Psalm 126 is a Psalm of Ascent, which itself implies that you are rising from a lower position – a pit, a valley, or place of humility.
There had to be a trial before there could be a blessing.
Last week instead of receiving the “armloads of blessing” for which I had prayed, my husband lost his job due to cuts made after a company acquisition. The timing is almost comical because as I am writing this the wedding is only 22 days away!
But I know God’s got this.
In my faith journey, there are 3 things I am learning when setbacks happen.
1. Accept the trial. God knows what He is doing. Although I would never compare our situation to the severity of Job’s, we can know through his story that nothing happens to us in life that God has not permitted. It is up to us, however, how we handle the adversity. Whether it be a financial crisis or a major health issue, may we choose to accept the trial and stand firm in our faith, making our Heavenly Daddy proud. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 As my pastor would say, it’s like giving the devil a punch in the nose!
2. Rely on God for restoration. The psalm really says it all! He is beyond capable and all -powerful to work on our behalf. He has repeatedly come through for us. In fact, a little over two years ago, we were in the same situation and He was wonderful to us! (verse 3) Sometimes God must take you back to the trial in order to bring the next blessing. Our job is to trust and persevere. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
3. Praise Him continually and expectantly. To be perfectly honest, we were blindsided over the job cut but there are so many silver linings in this cloud. Ironically, I was driving home that day thanking God for all His many blessings in our lives. Perhaps at the very moment my husband was receiving the news of his job cut, I was in a spirit of praise? At one point, I remember being moved to tears as I was counting the ways God has blessed me and our family. And not just material blessings, but for the stuff money can’t buy. For my husband – his big ol’ generous heart, the way he loves my older two children as his own, the way he loves me and all my messy crazy. For my kids – they are not perfect (none of us are!), but I am so proud of them and for their love of the Lord, they are turning out to be remarkable people and that makes a mama’s heart almost burst with thankfulness. For many answered prayers…I could go on and on…
So, when I walked in the door with my TJ Maxx bags and saw the unpleasant look on my husband’s face, I still had no idea. He said he didn’t want to give me the news while I was driving. Hugging him, I remember saying something like, “It’s okay, God has something better.” And I truly believe it. We are not losing sleep. He always provides. He is our Jehovah-Jireh. My God is an awesome God!“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:28
So, do it again, God! We have faith that You will.
Trusting Him with expectant hearts,
For His Glory,