Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Elephant In The Room

Last week, Shaggy spent several hours with our youth pastor talking about the options he considering for life after graduation. {Ack, I can barely type that.} I haven't talked about it here but trust me when I say, it's been a long, long season in our life, working through the ideas of future plans, education, careers, and callings with this boy. He's such a thinker and processor and all the paths stretched out before him, all new to him and in many ways to us, have been overwhelming for him to tackle. We've been patient, trying to guide when asked and trying to stay silent when he's not asking. It was so good for him to talk with someone else, get another perspective, and hear his own thoughts echoed back to him. Frankly, it's been hard to strike the right balance with him, letting him seek out the information that he's most interested in and placing the right opportunities or conversation starters into the mix without overwhelming him further. The last thing we want to do is take advantage of his desire to please us, by guiding him toward what we want these first few years after high school to look like. (It's tempting but it's so wrong, oh so wrong. Right? Right?)

We know this kid, how he is wired. It's surprising him, actually, how well we know him. (He thought he was harder to peg! Heh...) We know he needs to research and gather information and weigh it out for himself. We know his struggle to take steps forward without knowing where those steps might lead. We know how hard it is for him to trust without seeing exactly what it is he is trusting. This boy of mine, he has a tendency toward suspicion (I'm not telling tales, he freely admits that about himself!) and that checking facts (and history and reputation and references and recommendations and word of mouth and, and, and.....) is a huge part of his decision-making process. Let me tell you, this boy is so far from impulsive and spontaneous it almost makes me giggle into fits to think about what sweet, lovely young lady God has waiting in the wings for my Shaggy. (Someday, a long, long, long, loooong while from now, are we clear about that?)

Early this past fall, we were talking about college planning. It occurred to me that Shaggy didn't know that while we certainly expect him to earn a four-year degree, we are open to other options in addition to heading straight to college. He had been so "in the mode" of seeking out some good four-year schools to which he could transfer from the local community college, that he was, literally, flabbergasted that we would offer the opportunity to take some time off and pursue a ministry experience before college. He has a friend who, at that time, was preparing for a 7 month stint with YWAM. When we offered that same kind of time away as perfectly acceptable, he just did not know what to do with that. It was kind of amusing, but that conversation made me realize how lightly we'd need to tread with this boy and his process of tracking down what it was God has for him this coming year. And lightly we've tread, for sure. In fact, we left the conversation alone for a while so that he could research and pray. But then we found that we had to give him some parameters for his incessant researching and fact-gathering process: we asked him to please have a community college application ready to submit, along with an application to his chosen ministry experience in process, by the end of February.

Last week's conversation with the youth pastor sparked some great thoughts and helped solidify what Shaggy has been sensing from the Lord. Focusing on ministry experiences has delayed the application to community college a wee bit, which is okay with us. We're not telling him, but the deadlines were pretty soft in our minds. So the ministry experience application is in process right now. He feels settled with his plans and is starting to think about the "when" of what is coming next. So much so, that after Tuesday's appointment, he came home and wrapped his arms around me. He just stood there hugging me for several minutes.

"What's up? What did I do to deserve this?" I asked him. (Man, this kid gives the best hugs. He is so like his  dad that way.)

"Nothing in particular. I was just wondering if you'd given any thought to what it's going to be like when I'm gone for 7 or 8 months."

And there it was.
The elephant that has been sitting
in every room of this house
since the day that senior year started.

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I think about it all the time. ALL.THE. TIME. EVERY DAY. Not a day goes by that I don't think about what it will be like NOT to have you here every day!" I was rather proud of myself. I said all that, without crying. Small miracle.

And can I just tell you? I canNOT get away from that elephant, 
no matter where I go. It's not just in the rooms of the house anymore.
It's following me - to the grocery store, to the library, to church,
to the local K*hl's, everywhere I go.
It's there. Tiptoeing behind me,
shaking my very ground with its heavy tread.

"Really? You've already thought about it? Are you okay with it?" he sounded so surprised.

"Am I okay with it? Noooooo. I'm not okay with it. But it's not about me. This is about you. And what God is leading you to do. Cuz face it, Shaggy. If this was all about me and what I want?! You'd be home for two years at community college and then you'd transfer to XYZ college (literally in the next town over from us) and live here at home for that too! No, I'm not okay with it. But you aren't the only one trying to hear from God and follow His plan for you. This is me, trying to follow God's plan for you, too."

Yes, my friends, I was almost shouting at this point. And there might have been a tear or two. Or ten. Maybe.

I could almost hear the elephant's offended sniff. 
It's been outed. Acknowledged.
And it stinks.
I'm just sayin'....


Aus said...

Great work GM - it's the hardest part of parenting - parenting and adult!!

BT DT - easier for a Dad than a Mom - but still doable...but my tounge has chronic cuts in it from all the teeth marks - heh...

Y'all have done well - he's a fine young man. But remember that the measure of his success or failure is not made by you from this point forward - it's made by him and our Father.

And you will adjust to him not being'll take a minute..but you'll adjust.

And throw some peanuts in the back yard to take care of the rest...

hugs - really good work - and he won't mind the tears either!

aus and co.

The Gang's Momma! said...

Got this private email from a friend in a very similar boat that I am in. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. But the points in it are TALK-WORTHY! So let's talk:

"I think I understand almost exactly where you're at right now with the oldest one growing wings. DS is a senior as well and it is stretching me. He is a parent-pleaser as well so we could have easily given our "wishes" and he'd have "cooperated". He has wanted to be a mechanical engineer since the time he understood what a mechanical engineer does and it fits his giftings perfectly. He was accepted at (a great private secular college)- (but even with scholarships it's bookoo bucks!) and to (big state university). He could live here at home the first two years (yippee!!) and do the last two at their main campus.

Then about a week before the app deadline he heard of (small liberal arts Christian college)and just told us last week that he thinks that's where God's leading him.

I'm so proud of myself that thru my tears I was able to release him into what God's telling him to do but HARD?? Holy Snikies!

This makes labor and delivery look like a breeze!!"

Amy S said...

Thank you for sharing!! What you've sown into so carefully for so many precious years, is about to be launched - in a whole new way. It's been such a gift to be a part of the journey with you - all, and I am soo looking forward to seeing the beautiful harvest as it continues to be revealed! Love you, Dear Friend

Amy S

Selma said...

I think I just held back a tear or two for you. Wow, I know that my journey with all of that is not too far off in the future. Right now, I'm figuring out what 5th grade is going to look like next year. I love that you LOVE your children so much that you are willing to put your own self and emotions aside for what is best for them. I can read enough through the lines to hear the rawness in your heart with all of this. Thinking of you... Much love!