Bittersweet Blessing

“I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.”  Proverbs 4:11-13 (NKJV)

I recently returned from a trip to visit my daughter at Belhaven University. She had asked me to come and visit with her for several days prior to the Spring Faculty Dance Concert in which she had been given a solo.  It was a bittersweet couple of days as I realized that, in just one short year, she would be graduating from college. It seems like only yesterday that my husband and I started this grand adventure known as parenthood.  Where did the time go so quickly?

This past week, my daughter introduced me to many of her professors and instructors. Each of them was generous in their compliments about her and her contributions to the dance department.  Their obvious respect for her left no doubt in my mind that they saw her as more than just another student. They saw her as an adult.

This is, of course, what we work so hard for as parents: to instill in our children those values and character traits that we deem important. We hope to see our children grow into fully functioning adults who will exhibit wisdom in their relationships and in their life’s decisions.

All that being said, however, I struggled far more this past week, while watching her in class and rehearsal, than I ever did when she first went away to college. I found myself often overwhelmed with emotion as the enormity of what I was seeing and hearing began to sink in: this beautiful girl who her father and I raised, was no longer a girl. She had grown into a beautiful young woman. And I knew once and for all, with certainty, that this young woman was going to leave me behind as she walked into the call of God on her life. Now mind you, I have always known that she was going to grow up and leave us, and have spent many years working toward this very goal for her life, but I was still woefully unprepared for the reality of it.

I know every parent must come to this point. Our children grow up and become adults. The passage of time cannot be stopped. My husband and I have always encouraged our daughter to think for herself, make her own decisions, and take responsibility for her actions. We have been there to back her up, or pick her up, depending on the decision and its outcome. This too is what parents are supposed to do. It is our job to equip our children to grow into maturity, not only physically and intellectually, but more importantly, spiritually. And when they come to this place of maturity in their lives, it is our responsibility to let them go, with our blessing.

I have been wonderfully blessed. This young woman, for whom I have been parent for the past twenty years, has become someone whom I can call friend.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3 (NKJV)

Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
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