Friday, May 22, 2009

For Grads and Parents

Every year, as the month of May comes to an end, I think back on school days. Those were good times and I remember the simple innocence of elementary school, moving up into junior high and then the discoveries of high school and the intensity of teenage years.

The long time that’s past since serves as a reminder of the realities of life for all grown- ups and, frankly, sometimes, it stinks. There’s no summer break when you’re a grown-up. Work, whatever that might mean to you, treks on with no real acknowledgement of the change of season. The schedule, for the most part, remains the same. Except for moms that are left to figure out what to do with those school kids that suddenly find themselves at home all day, quickly bored and looking for entertainment.

When I was living at home with my parents and going through the first 12 years of my education, we lived on School Street. You guessed right – across the street, not more than a hundred yards or so from my front door, was the high school. At least it gave credibility to my stories for my grandchildren and for generations to come, “Yep, I used to walk to school! Up Hill both ways!”

Can you remember the feeling of looking at the clock on the wall of the classroom, watching it tick down toward that final bell? Remember the sound of it and the feelings of relief ? Wow. It’s as clear as a, well, as clear as a bell in my memory.

We’d literally run from the classroom out the door. Those that boarded the buses would toss, what had, in an instant become, irrelevant papers out the bus windows. Lots of them landed in our front yard for me to clean up. I held the term papers with grades that simply didn’t matter for the next few months. Tests that show the progress of the past nine months weren’t the least bit significant now. Summer was here.

Those days, I didn’t think ahead too much. All that mattered was the moment.

I spent my summer days playing baseball. Most summers, our family would take a week’s vacation and then, put the suitcases back in the closet for another year. Most vacations were spent in the same place – Panama City, Florida. We stayed in the same motel by the beach every summer for years. It was comfortable and familiar. To be away from our little home town, alone with mom and dad for a week, with their undivided attention was the best.

After high school, for some reason that I’ve never really been able to explain, I went straight off to college. Louisiana Tech University was only an hour and a half from home but the permanence of moving out of my father’s house was a startling, harsh reality. Still, I couldn’t wait to go.

I don’t think I ever gave much thought to the feelings and emotions my folks were experiencing as their youngest bird flew the coop. And I regret that. When my own boys left for college – and really, once you leave, it’s difficult to go back – I remember hoping and praying that I’d given them what they would need to live. By the grace of God, they’ve done well and for that, I’m extremely thankful.

Many of you reading this are going through an ocean of feelings right now. Some of you are sending your first born off to school for the summer. Some have the summer months to prepare and college will start in the fall.

How are you?

Are you in a mild panic?

It’s time to take stock of God’s mercy, His Grace and His faithfulness. Where we fall short, He is sufficient. When we fail, He uses those failures to produce His good will. Where our families are wounded and broken, He is the Healer.

There may be scars from your past. There may be scars on your children. Acknowledge them, give thanks and move on.

Let go of the bitterness of the past. Some of the bruises may be from recent battles, but let me encourage you to take a deep, deep breath. Forgive those that have wronged you. Forgive those things that were said in anger. Don’t let them rob your family of another day of peace.

And while you’re forgiving others, forgive yourself. Give yourself a break. Lots of times, this is the hardest thing to do. Time is passing and life is short. None of the rest of the world is impressed with our ability to hang on to a grudge. “Oh, what a fine person you are to keep that anger for so many generations. Way to go!” The rest of the world is wrestling with their own problems and they’re not real concerned with ours. So, it’s up to you. Let it go and get on with your life.

Tell that son or that daughter how much you love them. Tell them how proud you are of them . . . even if it’s a stretch! You might be surprised how hard they’ll work to try and meet your expectations if they know you’re on their side right now.

I pray that as the grad season comes and goes again, you’ll put good words, truth and wisdom into the ears of those you love. Be a light. Be the salt of the earth. Make those around you thirst for Him who gave His life so that we might have life abundantly.

And may He bless us all in the days ahead.

Wayne Watson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post/blog. It definitely hits home right now. My oldest recently got married and she and her husband are both being deployed with the Army this summer. And there've been changes with some of my other kids too.

I am finally starting to really "get it" that my life is not for me. None of us who are parents can afford to think our lives are our own. I remember hearing once, getting married teaches you to die to your self...having children finishes the job.

As Christians this is true, and it's interesting to me all the things Jesus uses to help us to "get it."

Thanks again, your music and your writings are always a blessing, an encouragement and/or admonishment, always thought provoking! God bless and keep you and all the ones you love.
~Amylisa C.