The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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Let Them Grow

Josie, our oldest grandchild turns three this week.  She spent the night with us Friday, two weeks since I last saw her.  I was amazed at how much she changes in a short time.  She can now hold the leash when we walk Rocky, our dog.  Her vocabulary increases geometrically and includes the words “actually” and “delicate.”  I think I got my first eye roll when I asked her if she knew how a car wash works: “Yes,” she said with a heavy breath of impatience, “The brushes come out an whirl around real fast.” How silly of me to ask.

Once again she’s grown while we were apart and I find myself pulled by the old temptation.  The one that doesn’t want her to grow up.  The one that wants her to stay small forever so that I can I can enjoy her as she is now without having to worry about what changes are coming.  It’s the temptation to limit her life for my benefit.

I am forced to remember my own advice which I gave in a column written in our church newsletter a dozen years ago when our daughters were much younger.  I’m posting it for my own benefit – and in the hope it speaks to all parents and grandparents who would like to freeze their children in time.rachel ski

This Saturday represents a major milestone in the life of our family:  Rachel graduates from Samford University and Jordan graduates from Rome High.  The sentimental streak in me has worked overtime in anticipation of the day— I’ve been involved in a month-long task of reorganizing our photo collection.  What I see as I go through the stacks of old pictures are countless moments where I have frozen the girls in time, countless moments where I wished I could keep them this age forever.  

There is a picture of a toothless six-year-old with her first softball trophies.    There is one of a small red head skiing on my back while waving to the camera.  Deeper into the stack I come across Jordan’s picture from the Rome News-Tribune the day after Rome High won their first-ever softball victory.  There’s Rachel on a mission trip in China—the only Caucasian face in a sea of Asians.  It occurs to me that if I could have had my wish and frozen my daughters at age six or ten or thirteen, there are too many wonderful experiences we would never have had later when they were older.  

If you are a parent of smaller children or preschoolers,  I want to share a lesson with you.  It is a lesson I am learning both painfully and joyfully.  However wonderful you find your child’s age today, there is more goodness to come.  Whatever pleasure they give you now, there is more pleasure to be found in later accomplishments. 

As much pleasure as I received from teaching Jordan a little more about softball or holding Rachel in the water while waiting for the boat to snatch us up on my skis, I receive more today from talking with two beautiful young women about common values and a common faith.

On graduation day, it would be easy to yield to the temptation of wishing we could go back to a time when they needed me more—to carry them to the car or to help with their homework.  It would be easy to yield to the temptation of saying, “You will always be my little girls.”  But I am going to resist temptation on Saturday.  Instead, I am going to revel in the enjoyment of knowing two beautiful, independent, responsible young women who are ready to take their places in the world.  In parenthood, this is my greatest joy yet.

If watching my daughters grow was a great joy of parenting, I need to learn that lesson again – today with Josie, tomorrow with Jace and Lucy. Thus,  I wonder in great anticipation what they will learn next, what they will achieve next.  What adventures lie in store as they grow in stature and independence?    My prayer is not that they  always stay young, but that I get to see the children, the teenagers, the adults they become. 

Happy Birthday, Josie.  You are on your way!

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