It’s that time of year.
It’s a beautiful and tough time, at the same time. It’s beautiful because young people are graduating from high school, and they have accomplished so much that is worth celebrating. It’s tough because they are graduating and moving to that next phase of life. For some it will be going away to college.
I remember so vividly how tough it was dropping Tyler off at college. We moved him into the dorm, drove about a block away, stopped the car, and cried. Natalie in the back seat was like, “Yea, I’ve got run of the house now!” We said very little on the long drive home.
Natalie will be a high school senior next year, and now I face that empty nest. Life and people change, and we learn to adjust. We should be glad to see our kids grow up and learn independence. Rites of passage they are called: learning to drive, first date, going off to college. We celebrate those special moments in their lives, though those moments can be really difficult for mom and dad to swallow.
When our son got his first cell phone, it too provided an insight into a stage of life. For years, when you called his cell phone and got his voice mail, you got, “Wassup? This is Tyler. Leave a message.” I never really cared for “Wassup?,” but I didn’t lodge a formal complaint. I figured that was his business, not mine. Well, one summer he had a real job working in a law firm, and I noticed that his voice mail changed from “Wassup?” to “Hi, you have reached…” I thought I had dialed the wrong number. These are subtle signs that our kids have passed into the next phase of life.
Someone said that “raising a child is the process of losing a child.” Some of these rights of passage hurt. Sending a kid off to college hurts. I haven’t had the experience of marrying off my daughter, but I can only imagine. But it is a good kind of hurt, because it is mingled with joy over their maturity and happiness.
Every “hello” that we have in life, has tucked away in the back pocket, a “goodbye.” The “hello” of the birth of our children has the “goodbye” of putting them on a school bus or moving them into a college dorm room. Sure it hurts, but it’s what you want for them. You want them to go out on their own and make their own way. But it hurts because we love them so much.
Some folk shy away from having deep relationships (or any for that matter) because they fear the goodbye. But what we must do is to keep nurturing all our relationships and not shy away from loving. Fear of the painful goodbye will paralyze us if we let it. In the words of author Charles Poole, “It is better to know the pain of saying a goodbye that hurts than never to know the joy of saying a hello that matters.” Then he adds, “To steel yourself against ever having to say a goodbye that hurts is to steal yourself, to rob your joy, and to diminish your life.”
And who wants their kids to go through life always saying “Wassup?” Not me.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Dr. Steve Davis