Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lessening the Lump

Every September when the big yellow school buses rumble up and down the road, I get a lump in my throat. I remember seeing Jennifer, our firstborn, climb the big steps of the mini bus that picked her up for kindergarten. She seemed so small, so young, to be going off alone into her new world.

As I waved goodbye to Jennifer, I felt alone and incredibly sad because the child with whom I had spent nearly every waking moment for the past six years had just boarded the bus that would take her to a school where she would encounter more new faces and experiences than familiar ones. No longer would I have the privilege of meeting the majority of her needs. Instead, I was relinquishing her to others. I knew full well that even the kindest and best teachers and friends would never love her as much as I did.

Letting children go into a world that may not love them or treat them kindly is one of the most difficult tasks a parent must do. As I write these words, I’ve had years of parenting experience, but waving goodbye hasn’t gotten much easier even though the children have matured. I still get that very familiar lump in my throat as Jennifer and Jena—“my babies”—venture into the unknown.

The uncertainty of what’s ahead for them in the new world causes tightness in my stomach. The sadness of being separated from them and being unable to care for them produces tears.

My feelings are not uncommon. Mothers throughout the world ask questions such as these: Will my child be safe? Will my child make friends? Will my child resist temptation to do the wrong things and to run with the wrong crowd? Will my child be happy and successful in the new situation? Will my child find someone who will genuinely care for him or her?

Releasing the child is easier if the answer to all the above is “Yes.” However, if the answer is “No,” letting go becomes extremely difficult.

As the child goes into a world filled with crime, drugs, prejudice, perversion, injustice, misunderstanding, and the like, the words Jesus spoke to His disciples take on a new meaning. “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16, New Living Translation).

Several times in the Gospels, Jesus assured those who trusted Him that He would never leave them, that He would always be with them. His promise still holds true today. Therefore, our children do not go out into the world alone, neither are we left home alone. That lessens the lump a bit, doesn’t it?

Excerpted from Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill’s book, Reflections, published in 2002. For permission to use, please contact the author at johnniegaskillATgmailDOTcom.
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