Adapting to College Boy

As described last time, our oldest has left for college, and I wanted to share an update of where things stand. Right now, I’m working my way through the stages of grief at not having him around anymore.

In these first two weeks, we’ve FaceTimed with him twice; the first time we caught up with him in the basement of another dorm “hanging out with my friends.” Well that didn’t take long. The next time, he was in his room with his roommate. The first time, he was monosyllabic–maybe didn’t want to be too expressive around his new friends. The second time, he was laughing and much more the young man I’d expected to hear from. But overall, clearly, he’s enjoying himself and off to a solid start in many respects. And yes, true to form, the only texts he’s initiated with me have to do with…money.

We’re still getting used to not having him around. It’s quieter, even though he often hung out in the basement anyway. My food bill collapsed. It’s easier to make a menu of dinners when only three have to agree on the meals.

But the silence still screams at me. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen something funny in social media that I know he’d react to and went to call out, “Hey, D, come take a look at…oh.” It’s not being able to share the little moments of everyday life that I think bothers me the most at this point.

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College Boy

This past weekend we moved our son into his freshman dorm at college. Our baby boy, our firstborn, is now College Boy, and we’ve found our world changed to an even greater degree than we’d imagined.

Of course we’d been getting ready, or so we thought. We’d been planning for college literally since he was born, and pointing him on this path since he began school. He’s been gone many times before–mission trips, Scout camp–and I thought I was ready for what this would feel like.

I was wrong.

I think what surprised me the most was the size of the hole that’s been left in my heart. The experts say that the most stressful life event is the death of a spouse; having a child move off to college isn’t even on their top ten list. But I can avow that this week has been one of the most heart-wrenching in the last several years. Of course, I love my son; my problem is, I actually like him, too, and I miss having him around. I’ve enjoyed being able to share something with him on the fly. That’s not as possible now.

We got him moved in, and managed to say our goodbyes without drama. Made it out to the car just fine, and even made the four-hour drive home without a problem. But when we got home late at night and I headed upstairs to bed, I saw under his door that he’d left his room light on. Grrr…so I opened the door to turn the light off.

And now I’m in his room. And there on the bed is what was his most beloved stuffed animal since first grade, sitting forlorn, waiting for a little boy who will never return–because he’s all grown up now. That’s when I lost it.

“Behold,” says the one who sits on the throne, “I am making all things new.” And I know this is natural, this is part of the progression of a healthy human being as he separates and starts his own path. But I also know I’m still selfish enough to want one more game of catch, one more Daddy-David Day, one more driving lesson, one more…everything. This is a glorious time, and we do celebrate it. But I’m also selfish enough to mourn what I’m losing, to miss what I don’t have anymore. And so my struggle right now is how to set that aside, and keep my eyes on the promise of renewal and growth that Christ brings. That’s going to be my challenge for the next few weeks.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come

Paris. Brussels. Ferguson. Baltimore. Nice. Dallas. Istanbul. Baton Rouge.

So much pain. So much anger. So little coming together, until after the violence. So quickly we become inured to seeing another city on the news.

Jesus understands pain. He was as human as we are, and he suffered unlike any of us ever have or ever will. He knows the pain behind the rage.

But he is not the rage. Instead, he weeps at our rage. He weeps at our brokenness, at our insistence on turning to something other than to him and the Father when we confront the brokenness of our world and of each other.

Jesus’ heart is shattered by Paris, Brussels, Ferguson, Baltimore, Nice, Dallas, Istanbul, Baton Rouge, and any of a thousand other places where we insist on taking out our pain on one another, instead of taking it to him.

Lord Jesus, you promised that you would make all things new. We can hardly wait. Our world is on fire, and we need your healing touch. Come, Lord Jesus. Come into our hearts, restore our balance and our awareness of each other. Renew in us your forgiveness, and teach us once again to forgive one another.

Come, Lord Jesus. Just come.

Amen.

Saved, Not Excused

When someone we love is hurting, we hurt. Right now I have someone in my family who’s hurting, and it absolutely breaks my heart.

I’m a guy, of course, and as a guy, I want to fix things, and when it’s someone else’s heart that’s broken, when someone close to me is living (as my brother Glenn says, channelling Los Lobos) in “the deep dark hole that leads to nowhere,” well, I want to fix it and make it all better. But I can’t. It’s not something I can fix.

As we grow, we learn things like the concept of “circles of control” and “circles of concern.” A loved one’s personal anguish is very much in my circle of concern, but unfortunately, it’s not in my circle of control–I can’t take away the darkness or blunt the pain. It’s a hard lesson to learn, to have to surrender that to God and ask the four hardest words in the English language: “Thy will be done.”

How can this be? As Christians, aren’t we saved? Redeemed? Rescued? Why do we have to endure hardship and pain, or perhaps even worse, why do those close to us have to do so?

I have to remind myself, that’s all true: we are saved, redeemed, and rescued. But what’s saved, redeemed and rescued is our soul, our connection with the Almighty–giving us a cushy, problem-free life here on earth was never part of Jesus’ promises to us. In fact, much of 1 Peter serves to remind us that suffering will come our way: that life in Christ doesn’t excuse us from what this broken world will still dish out. We’re saved, redeemed, rescued, all right, but that doesn’t give us a hall pass from the suffering of this life.

Intellectually, I know that. It’s hard to hold onto when it’s someone close to you who’s doing the hurting.

I try to fortify through prayer, through bringing the power of Jesus against the darkness and to ask for the Lord’s healing power. Some days I think it’s working. Other days, the darkness seems to win. I know in the end, the darkness can’t win: I know who won the war already. But some of these individual battles, they look pretty close to me. And in the midst of the fight, sometimes, that’s all we can see.