“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:11-13 (NKJV)
Several weeks ago, my daughter Hannah and I took down the Christmas tree after the holidays. Normally, this is a task that I do not particularly enjoy. The house always looks so empty and feels so “cold” after everything is put away. This year, however, my purpose was more than just removing all the Christmas tree ornaments and restoring them to their proper place until next year. This year, the ornaments had to be sorted.
You see, my daughter is in the middle of her last semester of college. Graduation looms, and along with it, the establishment of her own separate household. She is excited about the prospect of having a place to call her own and not living in an 8×10 foot dorm room. While she is understandably a bit nervous about the process, she is ready to have a place that she can call “home.”
Of course, the purpose of the “ornament-sort” was to cull out those ornaments that have, over the years, been given to her, for when she has her first Christmas tree. This was a bittersweet blessing for me as the reality of what we were doing was apparent. Our daughter is now a young woman and will soon to be living independently from us.
The focus of our Christmas and birthday gifts to her this year was a bit different from previous Christmases and birthdays. She received a number of items essential to a young woman for setting up her own household: pots and pans, kitchen utensils, cookbooks, and other assorted necessities for someone who likes to cook and clean.
What has surprised me about this entire process is how excited I have been to gather up all those items she will need to set up her first apartment. I have even gone through our house and come up with enough “early attic, late relative” furniture to get her started. In many ways, I think I am having more fun with all of this than she is.
Now, there are some parents who can’t wait for their children to grow up, move out, and stop being a drain on the family finances. This is not true for us. Hannah will be greatly missed when she no longer calls our house her home. We have considered it a privilege to provide financially for what she has needed.
It has given me great satisfaction watching her mature into a lovely young woman. She is ready to be an adult and all that goes with it, even if she is not confident of that fact. She has put away “childish things.” She has the acquired the life skills and the spiritual and emotional maturity necessary to step out into the adult adventure called “life.” She will handle all the challenges she faces with wisdom, even if that wisdom occassionally requires she calls Mom and Dad for some help.
The heart of a woman goes through many seasons in life: childhood, youth, adulthood, marriage, motherhood, ”empty nest,” and finally, if God so blesses, “grandmother.” This is the season for my heart to let go of a child, and welcome a woman: to watch Hannah bloom into what God has intended for her. It is the season to praise God for all that He has done, and is doing, in both her life and mine.
The heart of this woman is filled with gratitude for the great blessing that is her daughter.
And so, another season begins for my heart and hers. . .
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4: 14-15 (NIV/1984)
Related Article: “Bittersweet Blessing“
Copyright © 2012 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved