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.