One of the hardest days of my life was the day that I dropped my daughter off for the first time at college.
I lingered as long as I could when I brought her there. We moved her in, made her bed, and took her to the grocery store to stock her room with college student snack essentials. When it was finally time to go we looked at each other with the greatest of trepidations, hugged, and parted. I got in the car just in time for her to not see the tears in my eyes that I got when I saw them in hers.
When I got home, it was probably the closest I had ever been to being depressed. Her room was dark and quiet: no music, no tv, and no laughter as she talked with friends on the phone. She was not there to come out of her room to say “Hi” when I walked in the door like she had done nearly every day before. The realization set in that she had just taken her first big step towards the rest of her life.
Granted there are small steps that our children take on their way to adulthood. But moving out of the house, even if it’s into a college dorm, is one of the first biggies. We are not there anymore to see what’s going on in their life. We rely on the occasional phone call. At first the calls come fast and furious as they try to settle into their new life without us being there all the time as well. But as they begin to spread their wings and get comfortable, the calls become less frequent.
Our job as parents, as hard as it might have been while we tried to provide a basis of strong morals and values for their lives while they were younger, just took another step up in difficulty. We now must back-off. This may be one of the hardest things we need to learn to do as parents. We need to resist the urge to call or text message all the time. This is the time that all of our previous hard work comes into play. We must learn to let go and allow them to begin to use their judgment and develop their interpersonal skills. They now must learn to deal with roommates, problem solve, manage their time, figure out how to eat, do laundry, wake up for class, deal with stress… you name it – all on their own.
As a good parent, it is our job now to have the strength to watch them rise or fall based upon their actions and decisions they now make. It is our job now to force them to rely on their own problem solving abilities and not use us as crutches to get through their new life.
But as parents we will always be there for them if they need us.
I believe it is the same with God.
We are the children of God. 1 John 3:1 tells us this: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
God made us. God raised us. God taught us what He has expected from us from the day we were first put on earth. He gave us free will and then He let us go out into the world. Over time, there have been stories of great success and stories of great failure.
God loves us enough to not control our every move.
Just like a parent who must let their child live their own life and figure things out for themselves, God does not hover over us telling us that each decision we make is good or bad. He has given us the basis for being able to make good or bad decisions. And after making our own decision, we must live with the consequences – good or bad.
God loves us enough to be there for us when we need Him. He is always there for us – in the good times and the bad. We just need to reach out to Him.
Just like we will always be there for our children, God is always there for us – His children.