Thursday my life changed drastically. My youngest son joined the Navy.
It was a huge day! He was going with his recruiter to a Base out of town, where he would be tested, choose his job and be sworn in. I pulled up in front of the recruiters office and Jon jumped out of my truck and said, “Love you, Thanks.” And he was gone. He trotted across the parking lot, never once looking back. If he had looked back, he would have seen my face contorted and pinched from my effort to keep from bursting into tears.
“Love you, thanks.” That’s it? No, “Thank you mom for always being there for me and making this all possible”. Not even, “Where would I be without your unending support and enduring love, prayers and encouragement.” Nope. Love you, thanks.
“I need chocolate, STAT!”
As I sat in front of the recruiters office, alternating between crying and praying, I was struck with the familiarity of my reaction. It was just like his first day of kindergarten all over again. “Will he look back and wave and maybe cry a little?” No, not my Jon. He was so excited to finally be going to school like his 3 siblings, he didn’t think to look back. He made his way into the class room without the need to cling to me or his dad. His path was set. He was unwavering. He was looking straight ahead. (Me? Now you know that I was a Hot Mess!)
Today, 18 years later, he trotted off to join the Navy. He was not looking back. His path was set and he was unwavering. He was looking ahead. I felt my heart squeeze with a sense of loss. Just like kindergarten, once again, he was my last child to leave the nest. And he was doing it exactly how he should do it.
And I was so proud of him. Again.
However, as proud as I was of him, I was still hiding behind my sunglasses, with mascara running down my face, and no chocolate anywhere in my vehicle. I kept checking my phone. No calls. No texts. I was ready for him just in case he needed me. But it seemed that he didn’t. Go figure. You would think I would be used to this process of letting go, after all, I had done it three times already. My daughter was a college graduate and cancer survivor and had been living and working in Sydney for 2 years. My older boys were both warriors in the Military, (Army and Coast Guard) one happily married, the other engaged to be married. And now Jon. But in my mind’s eye, I was still picturing that sweet little boy so bravely marching off to his first day of school, not the tall, muscular man trotting across the parking lot without hesitation. Ready or not, he too had grown up on me. And my heart ached.
I thought about the different “firsts” each of my children had experienced while they lived at home, and how we had prayed over and trusted God with them everyday since before their births. Their first steps, first words, Kindergarten, school plays, athletics, first dates, graduations, college, careers. I allowed myself to feel that pain and loss, pride and joy. But after 47 minutes of this in the recruiter’s parking lot, I was worried I might get arrested for stalking or loitering. So I dried my eyes and drove home, knowing that my life had changed again in ways I can’t even begin to know yet. And that I had an emergency Butterfingers on top of the refrigerator.
C.S. Lewis wrote: “You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.”
My son was pushing forward. He had been preparing and working for this particular moment in his life. He was ready to test the strength of the wind.
Now it is my turn.
What does the LORD have for me now?
I will be brutally honest with you. I feel a little undone. And that feeling is not comfortable for me. I like having everything “all together”. I know how to be a mom. I have gotten the wife thing down pretty well after 29 years too. But I don’t know how “I” am supposed to look, and I don’t mean physically.
15 years ago, I had my game plan outlined and my goals set in stone. I knew exactly where I was going and what I would be accomplishing. I was where I had planned to be and meeting my goals one by one.
I felt like I had it all.
And I was ripe for failure.
“Then life happened. In a really big way.”
I can grieve and reflect and reminisce and remember how things were. How I thought things should have turned out. Or I can choose to look ahead, straight ahead, unwavering. The LORD knows where I am now, and where I came from. He knows my successes and my failings.
He knows what it looks like when life kicks the snot out of us, and what it looks like when we begin again… again, because He is always with us, no matter where we are. Cheering us on to keep walking. Healing our broken hearts. Drawing us close.
He knows me, even if I don’t know me. And HE is enough for me. I don’t have to have all the answers because I serve the ONE who does. So, yes, my life looks a lot different today than “I” had planned for it to look.
I think that is a very, very good thing.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11
“Love you, thanks.”
Actually, those 3 little words did say it all. I wonder, was Jon trotting off toward his goal not just the wake up call I needed?
“TRUST in the LORD with all your HEART, and LEAN not on your own UNDERSTANDING. In all your WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE Him and HE will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
I am trusting the LORD with the future, safety and plans for each of my children and my husband. And now, it is time for me to also trust Him with the plans He has for me. I have had my course set before me. And I will never know the strength of the wind unless I walk into it.
Don’t lie down. Let’s test the wind. You are not alone.
“Here’s to first days of kindergarten, empty nest syndrome, trusting the LORD with all our hearts, beginning again… and again, walking into the wind, and Butterfingers.”