I’ll admit it. I sometimes envy friends and family whose grown children live just down the road, or in the next town, or even in the same state. To be able to have Sunday dinner together or to meet up for coffee at the last minute sounds delicious. But, for whatever reason, our four sons are scattered. Meet-ups require some planning and more than a few road miles.
We’re taking one of those road trips this weekend, catching up with the oldest son who lives in Chicago, three hours to the west of us. If all goes according to plan, we’ll make two more trips in the next month — one a couple of hours to the east to meet up with our son in Detroit and another trip seven hours to the south where the two youngest live in Nashville, TN. We’re not sure how it happened, but we raised four city kids on this farm in rural Indiana.
In weaker “Mom-moments” I may envy families living in the same time zone but the truth is, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Our sons are where they are because of who they are. Each is on a different path, all leading somewhere. I don’t know where they’re going in life, and I’m not sure they do, but God does.
And that’s where faith comes in. Faith in God’s divine providence, and faith in my offspring.
I listened to a podcast this week with a guest therapist who quoted a family study that said if we as parents “get it right” just half the time, our kids will turn out okay.
I’m not sure how I feel about that. I want to believe that for my kids to survive and thrive, I must have contributed more than just 50 percent of “rightness” to their upbringing. I mean, my kids were my focus, the center of my world for at least 30 years (they range from early 30s to early 20s). We homeschooled them, took them to church with us, gave them responsibilities around the house (with a chore chart on the refrigerator to keep us all accountable — sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t). Our sons’ first jobs were on the farm, working for dad. When they wanted and seemed ready, we helped them find jobs in the community. We sent them to Christian camp, to Christian concerts, to Christian colleges.
You mean to tell me I only had to do half of that right for them to turn out okay?
The thing is, I can try my darnedest do everything right, but I can’t protect them from the world. That’s right — I can’t. And you can’t. They will leave the nest and they will have relationships we’ll know nothing about. It’s what happens when our kids become adults. Even if we’ve done our 50 percent, they may wind up choosing people, experiences, environments, lifestyles and habits that are not on our “want list” for them. But I don’t get to choose. They do.
As I said, that’s where faith comes in, because I can’t live in fear of their choices.
Beth Moore, in her book The Quest, says this:
“Any square foot or inch where fear abides in your life is the precise ground faith exists to occupy.”
I’ve held fear in my heart more than a few times while watching my adult kids stumble and pick themselves back up again. My husband and I have had to learn when to lean in with an offer of help and when to stand back. We’ve released each of them to God, but you’d better believe I am on my knees on their behalf every day.
“Fear cannot stand on a carpet of faith,” says Moore. I believe that. I’ve proven it to be true. So every day, I kneel on a carpet of faith, not fear, when I bring their names before God.
I didn’t raise my kids to be my lunch buddies or even to live in my time zone. My husband and I raised them to choose their own paths, and we delight in being along for the ride. Yes, it’s bumpy sometimes and there have been some hairpin curves we’d rather have avoided, but they’ve invited us to travel with them.
These are road trips we wouldn’t miss for the world!
(Author’s note: The featured photo was taken along the Natchez Trace outside Nashville, Tennessee, one of the many sites we’ve enjoyed on our road trips.)