trust

My daughter is going into the peace corps. I find this so hard to believe. Wasn’t it only yesterday that my mom and I were painting the cow-jumping-over-the-moon nursery? (It was the perfect decor, since we didn’t know whether our little offspring was going to be a boy or a girl.) Wasn’t it only yesterday that we loaded our tiny newborn into her brand new baby carrier car seat and took her up Mount Battie in Camden, Maine on her ‘First Outing”? (She was barely a week old.) It might have been that, combined with our ‘First Plane Ride’ two weeks later, that instilled in her the wanderlust that drives her to this day. (We moved to Kansas soon after she was born.)

She leaves for Kosovo on June 6. And while I have known, ever since she applied, that this could actually happen, when we got the news that she had received her official invitation, reality began to set in. In all honesty, I secretly hoped that she wouldn’t make it through the very competitive selection process. But as time tends to do, the grief over the thought of having my daughter so far away from me for so long has waned, somewhat. The roller coaster of emotions that go along with this separation will carry me for the next two-and-a-half years, to be sure. And yet, when I sit with all of these realities in prayer, I know God’s grace.

My mind tells me, she’s going so far away… And God responds, she’s an adult, now.
My minds says, it’s so dangerous… And God responds, I’ll watch over her.
My mind tells me, she won’t have a car, or a mall, or her comfy bedroom… And God whispers, she doesn’t NEED any of those things.
My mind tells me, she NEEDS my love and guidance… And God chuckles a bit. Because God is love, and God is in every face she will see every day during this amazing adventure on which she is about to embark.

It’s funny, this parenting thing. We try to love them with all our hearts, we guide them, we protect them. We say “no” perhaps a few too many times. Or maybe not enough? And we pray. A lot. We do all of these parenting things imperfectly, at best. And somehow, with God’s grace and with Holy Mystery, they become a person who wants to serve others. I’ve thought about this so many times in the past few months. Where did this desire in her soul come from? I’m not entirely sure that I had anything to do with it. But I delight in it, I believe in it, and I am overflowing with gratitude for it.

Today, I pray for complete trust in God’s plan, that plan that is Holy Mystery.

I invite you to do the same.

Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’
-Matthew 19:21

wisdom

Although she is but one, she can do all things,
and while remaining in herself, she renews all things;
in every generation she passes into holy souls
and makes them friends of God, and prophets;
for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.
-Wisdom 7:27-28

One of my hardest parenting challenges is when my daughter says to me, “You don’t understand!” and she speaks the truth. It’s true that I have not been in her shoes. It’s true that I have not had the exact same life experiences or frustrations. Its true that I had a different mom and lived in a different city and went to a different high school. And yet, isn’t it also true that my experiences in life, even if they aren’t identical, have helped me to understand her frustration? What makes this parenting challenge so difficult is that, in her heightened emotional state, my daughter is so focused on her own emotions that she can’t let down her guard enough to let her mother simply love her.

What can I do for a girl with whom I have not shared an exact experience? I can listen to her compassionately. I can give her a hug and allow her to let the tears flow.

Sometimes I wonder what God would say about how we comfort those who are suffering. When my daughter came home in tears yesterday and was sure that I had no idea how she felt, I sat down with her at the kitchen table and completely focused on what she was saying. No cell phone, no computer, no TV. Probably most days, I would give her half my attention while I looked at the mail, checked my email, and started dinner. As I reflect on it now, I realize that I did not accomplish this feat of focus on my own. God held my hand and helped me to see how important it was, at that very moment, to be present to my daughter’s suffering. I give thanks for that grace.