Yesterday we accompanied our oldest son, Christian to move into his college dorm at Cincinnati Christian University. It isn't his first time leaving home for college, but it is a new start....for both of us.
Parenting is hard and challenging at all stages but the transition from high school to college has been the hardest for me. Trying to figure out when to share advice and when to just listen. Knowing when to give warnings and when to keep silent and pray. Your child is now an adult but they still need your guidance, acceptance and love. It's not easy finding that balance.
When Christian left for college for the first time in the fall of 2014, our relationship was very strained. Every conversation became an argument. He was making some bad choices but he was also making some good ones. I couldn't see the good. I focused solely on the bad. He didn't want to talk about the bad, so he became defensive. There was no peace in our relationship. He is my firstborn and we have a very special bond. So the pain of our severely strained relationship was so very hard.
I began taking my hurts and confusion to God. I prayed daily for Christian to see the error in his choices and for God to help mend our relationship. Some days those prayers were just tears because I couldn't find the words.
After his first year of college, Christian came home but didn't live at home. I continued to pray and little by little I began reaching out to him. We would do breakfast a couple times a month. He would come for family dinner a couple times a month. I asked him questions about his life and was very careful about giving too much motherly advice. We talked about what God was teaching each of us from His Word.
Our relationship was slowly mending. God was showing me that my job as a mother was changing. I had to let go of this child and give him completely into God's hands. He will always need me to be his mom but he's not 12 years old anymore. Christian needed me to listen and share wisdom but not in the lecturing way that I had been doing. I could not be his Holy Spirit. He had to listen for God's voice in his life and follow that.
I didn't do things perfectly. It was very easy to revert back to the "I'm your mom, do what I say" mode. We were rebuilding trust with each other and that takes time. Every time I would mess up, I would ask God to help me be a better listener and to give me discernment on when to speak. Every chance I got, I let him know that I loved him and that he was welcome to return home when he was ready. Every day I prayed that God would speak to Christian and that Christian would listen.
I was so excited when Christian shared with us that he would be heading to Cincinnati Christian to continue his education and to play football. Then in November, another huge prayer was answered when Christian moved back home. I was so excited to have him home but I was more overjoyed by the fact that our relationship had been healed.
The tension and strain in our relationship was gone. There was peace again. Now we still didn't see eye to eye on everything and I didn't always agree with some of his choices, but God had done a work in me too.
I learned that I'm not in control of every aspect of my children's lives. That's God's job and He's perfect at it. My job is to love God and to teach my children how to love God.
So as I look at this picture, I see the power of a mother's prayer and the amazing love of a God who hears her. I see a new and fresh start. I see that with God anything is possible.