The oldest Coconut leaves for Africa on a mission trip in less than 24 hours, and I don’t even know how we got here. Wasn’t it just yesterday she was 11, starting middle school, knowing everything about everything, and humiliated that I would even think about wearing THAT out of the house?
Or maybe it was just last week, and she was five on her way to her first day of school, walking into her classroom without a backward glance at her weeping momma?
It couldn’t have been a month ago when she was 1, toddling around in my high heels, laughing her baby laugh, and shoving anything she could find in her mouth and up her nose.
I remember getting all the warnings about how quickly the time with our children goes from well-meaning grandma types who have forgotten the sleep deprivation, the leaking boobs and diapers, the temper tantrums, and all-nighters pulled with a teething feverish kid. I also remember tuning them out thinking, “I’m definitely NOT going to want to remember some of this.”
I wish I had listened better.
Because now we’re here and I have so many questions….
Have I adequately prepared her for this world that can be both tragically beautiful and seductively dangerous?
Did we do enough to demonstrate that relationship is more important than religion, to value scripture over tradition, and to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit inside of her over the latest popular preacher?
Is she continuing to build on the foundation of Jesus?
Does she really know that her identity is wrapped up in Him and not in a bunch of acquaintances on Instagram who have absolutely no idea how heartbreakingly lovely her heart is? Does she realize that those “friends” from within the church who now talk about her don’t really have their own walk with God and just hanging on to the fringe of their parent’s religion has made them religious, fearful, and insecure? That truly it’s not her, it’s them?
Does she know how to keep herself safe? Did she hear all the lectures from me about paying attention to her surroundings, how to carry her purse and her keys, or where the best thrift shops are?
What about just mundane everyday things? Can she cook more than just Mac N Cheese? Does she know how to pick the avocados that won’t go bad before she gets them home from the store? Did she listen to her dad when he told her how to register her car? Will she remember to take her clothes out of the dryer before they wrinkle? Well…..this one doesn’t matter because I still can’t remember to do that and I haven’t died yet or anything….
But she can’t even remember to ensure she has a towel in the bathroom before she gets in the shower, and she’s going to fly away to another continent??? Where she can’t yell across the house for me to bring her a towel?
Silly thoughts I know, but this trip is like the official start of our last year with her. The doorway to a new season in all of our lives. One more year with her under our roof. The last firsts. Our baby bird is hopping to the edge of the nest.
And I feel like I’m hyperventilating.
But just as I feel the ocean of emotion about to drag me under, the anchor catches. And I remember….
The promises of God are for me. And more importantly, they’re for her.
She is fearfully and wonderfully created.
She is loved.
She is redeemed.
She has purpose.
And a baby bird’s wings are meant to spread, grow stronger, and take her further.
I need to let her stretch her wings. I need to let her step out and test the foundation that we’ve laid for her and let her continue to build.
Maybe some of it is that I know she won’t be coming home the same person. This trip will change her. She’ll come back more independent and with a different view of her world, culture, poverty, and society. Her little bubble will grow and encompass new ideas and influences.
These are all good things, opportunities we have prayed for her, the life God promised us for her.
I also know as she walks down the jetway tomorrow, I won’t see the graceful young woman she’s become. I’ll see that pudgy-faced 1-year-old, the sassy 5-year-old, even the know it all 11-year-old walking away from me.
And I’ll let myself grieve just a little while I’m celebrating His promises.
For He who promised IS faithful.
Now I’ve got to go make sure she’s packed her toothbrush and retainer.
Because braces are one season of her life that I certainly don’t miss.