We are preparing to send our oldest son off to college. People keep asking us if we are ready. I am not sure. We have the gear. My wife deals with the emotion of the upcoming transition by adding more things to the virtual cart. Our home has morphed into an ancillary warehouse for Amazon. In terms of having enough things, we're certainly ready.
My son is ready. Like an athlete waiting at the tunnel ready for the coach to release them onto the field, he's antsy, prepared, and pumped. There must be some butterflies, but he has a way of twisting the fear into motivation. As legendary trainer Cus D'Mato said, "The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, ... fear, but it's what you do with it that matters."
As parents, are we ready? Has anyone, ever, really been ready? God gifts you with a precious soul to raise up and love. God, how you love them. From the edge of the race car bed until today, we say it over and again; "Son, there is nothing you could ever do to make us love you less." Those early years are foggy. The days go slow. There is so much to do. Places to be and people to see. Car shows on the carpet. Books at bedtime. Wiffle ball in the yard. Chores. Life to be done. Yet, there is always something undone. The years, though, they go so fast. And here they are 18 and in a week you'll drive them hours away to send them off and the University tells you to make it a quick goodbye and they say everyone will be ok. Can we be ready for that?
Dr. Seuss said, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." It must be both/and. I'll cry at the letting go. I'll cry because that's my boy and he's off into this crazy world - naive, excited, and uniquely equipped by God to do good works He's prepared in advance. I'll cry because I know there are hurts coming that seem like they'll never end and mistakes to learn from. I'll cry because I don't want to see him get knocked down. But, when he does, and we all do, I'll be in his corner, urging him to get up for one more round. And, I'll cry because there are so many great things and so much life on the horizon and I don't want to miss a moment. I haven't known sharing joy from afar. It's a learned skill, I suppose. So, sure, I'll cry a bit at the endings.
And I'll smile bursting, busting, exploding smiles because it all happened. I'm living my dream by fathering two amazing sons alongside a stunning wife and living the life that's truly life immersed in the Spirit of God and all. is. grace. I'll smile because I know he's ready. He's got that dawg in him - he's a fighter, like his mother. He's determined, focused, and confident balanced with humility, empathy, and an understanding that if God is with us who can be against us. He's a world-changer, God writing his story. I'll smile because I know most of what I worry about, and what he worries about, will never happen and that what does happen will be beyond what we can even think or imagine. God always does more.
In a week, I'll help him move into his new space. And I'll put together shelves and hook up TVs. And way too soon we'll say goodbye with a hug that I'll hold a little longer and a little tighter, crying a bit and smiling a lot. It's all good. It's all grace. And I'll tell him one more time that there is nothing he could ever do to make me love him less. Me, just mirroring God's posture to us, His arm over our shoulder looking ahead, saying you've got this - the best is yet to come.