This is it; the time has come to move our oldest into college. It has been many moons since I moved into college, but either times have changed, or they do things a little differently around here. I'm pretty certain that when I moved into Bluffton College, the only activity scheduled for my parents was to help carry my stuff up all those steps to my room, put it all together, and help us arrange it. Now, or here, or both, we had two days worth of meetings, receptions, convocations, and various other scheduled activities. The Good Doctor and I have a theory that the advent of the helicopter parent has created the need for more parent interaction, to assure parents that their children will be taken care of. In other words. colleges need to coddle parents while assuring them that their children will be well taken-care of and there's no need for further coddling. Since I have never been, and never plan to be, anything close to a helicopter parent, I think 2 days are a bit much. On the other hand, we are more and more convinced that Andrew is in the right place for him. Just in case, I brought the baby in the event that there are any stupid get-to-know-you games; a great excuse for a fast exit.
Last night's convocation was mostly boring as they usually are. Andrew says that the only thing he remembers from the whole service was that the president encouraged the students to get to know their professors, maybe even offering to take them to lunch.
So, just to help him remember, let me record two highlights:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
John 14:12 was the passage given to the incoming first year students. As a family, we believe strongly that we need to obey Jesus' commands to "go" so I was pleased to hear it from the college podium as well. Andrew, you are in a great place that will stretch you but will do so in the familiarity of what you already know and believe.
The second highlight for me was in the litany read at the conclusion of the service. I'm usually not into litanies or responsive readings. They never seem to go well and to the listeners are just a bunch of garbled sounds. The words read by both the students and parents, however, were exactly what I think should be said at this transitional milestone. Here they are:
Students: "We come to this University with a sense of expectancy and faith, believing God for great things in our lives. We confess, however, that our hearts battle fear and loneliness, uncertain of this new beginning. We ask for grace to seek the truth and to experience the freedom, which comes in that divine encounter. We pray that God will bless new friendships in the campus community, bring delight to our academic pursuits, and expand our appreciation for the wonder of the created universe. Grant us a hunger for knowledge and truth. We turn not from our parents and families who nurtured us, but ask that together we might rise to a new and stronger relationship."
Parents: "We confess that we stand at a crossroad in our lives. We ask for the courage and confidence to release our children to this community of faith and learning. We pray that our children will be reminded of the good shared with them through the years. may such blessings sustain and encourage them even now. We, too, desire a new and loving relationship found only when children leave home and return as friends. We commit ourselves to prayer, both for our students and for Asbury University. It is with joy and expectation that we come into this family, realizing what God desires for our children is far more than we can understand. This, by faith, we believe and accept as God's plan and purpose."
Leading up to this day, I was asked many times how I was handling this transition. I could honestly tell people that I was looking forward to it. This is not to mean that there wouldn't be tears at our parting but instead is a peace found in the knowledge that we have done our part to raise Andrew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52), the joy that he is using His God-given gifts and is pursuing his God-given dreams, and the fact that he has clearly chosen the college path that God ordained for him. This is what parenting is all about. I am thankful for the parenting years that God entrusted to us for Andrew and I am ready to allow him the privileges of college, more independent decision making, and further following God's plan for his life. As we read in the litany, our relationship will be different. This too is good and I am looking forward to it.
Thank you to those who have agreed to partner with us in daily praying for Andrew in this next stage of life. The theme of this year's freshman class is "anchored." They have a class verse, song, and various conversations centered on this theme. I am thankful that Andrew is anchored but also recognize that trials will come to test his anchor. This is where our prayers, our support, and yes, our letters and care packages, will hold him up and encourage him. If you would like his college address, please let me know.