Every May life brings another graduation and those come in so many shapes and sizes, but they are often difficult to swallow, hard to face and even more challenging to understand. In our family, we seem to have more this year and I know why, it's called life.
Haley Kirchner is my precious niece, the daughter of Daryl and Cheryl Kirchner. It's time for her to experience the transition from 5th grade in San Antonio into middle school. What a huge step this leap covers to a tender hearted young lady, but she is ready. Now the question remains, what about Mom and Dad? This is their first middle school experience and we all know how challenging this can be.
We grew up with Matthew and Carla Britt and their son, Joshua Britt is transitioning from Casady High School with the intent to probably become president of the United States one day. Both of his parents are doctors and he has huge dreams. He was the first of my many adopted "Godson's" and he plans to attend Bama and yell Roll Tide. However, Josh is the last child home and Carla I am sure is really feeling this one.
Stephanie Musser in our staff has become family to us. She and her precious football, wrestler, track star and cello player never cease to impress us. In fact, her son Sam is another amazing Godson has had one of those years worth talking about. He is graduating as the valedictorian at Edmond Memorial High School and heading to OU but leaving a mom as the only child is never easy.
Everything is changing and the transition is large when loving parents are directly impacted.
So lets talk about the transition of mom and dad, so what about the parents? There seems to be such a focus on the child, have we forgotten the feelings of all the mothers and fathers, their own personal anxiety and the fears associated with "an unknown future". As we celebrate and pray for the children, I want to stop a moment and just take a while to remember the parents of those in transition for graduating this year.
Many tears and tender feelings surround all of us when we see our young ones become older and take step after step into a new world. Fears can't help but occupy our hearts and minds and we have to be very careful our foundation of prayer is secure. Reading scripture, attending church, helping others, feeding the hungry and giving back are part of a future of service as you may experience "holes" in your free time now.
Those holes we are talking about are the vacuum of time which once occupied your life. It is the job of a parent to take the child by the hand and lead them into a life of true freedom, but the reality is, we don't like letting go. I sure did not do well letting go and never have, so this blog is really more about my own sadness in losing my children to adulthood.
The Bible tells us, "Be anxious about nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication give thanks". This means do not worry. There is no reason to allow fear to grip your heart and steal your enthusiasm. Remember, we have said this many times, EN THEOS means "In God" and what happens when we fear a transition, or become afraid or allow the enemy to steal our joy, we are robbed of the celebration.
Seeing children grow up has been hard for me, for many reasons. My own sons "transitioning into adulthood" has been the most difficult emotional time because I so remember the tender young children they were, the times of cuddling, the joy of night long laughter and the "playing games", which are now over. I never dreamed they would go so very far away, but they have and to be honest, I have not handled this well.
Michael is my oldest and he is a tender man whom I hurt deeply in his senior year of high school going through a very challenging and heart breaking divorce. His focus on his new family, his new ministry and his calling have consumed him, but I have missed his touch, his voice and his presence in my life. Matthew was in middle school when the crisis hit our nuclear family and he had the emotional impact and it hurt deeply.
When I think of how we go through seasons of transition, there are many obstacles which come our way. For some, it is geography and distance. For others, it is the natural freedom choices we make and for everyone, we just deal with transition differently. How do you deal with graduations? How do you handle change, trials and crisis when the nuclear family is challenged? One must remember to deal with everything in LOVE. If you lose this, you lose just about everything.
Yes, I know the argument sounds easy, but it is not. We we are simply to "release the children" like arrows from the bow and the life lessons are always a part of you, so cherish the time and don't wish for more. NOT. You see, I am inherently selfish and want more. Sometimes, I remember my grandmother would say, "Please come see us" and I thought she was just playing a victim, but I was wrong. She was reminding me to remember the family and always keep them a priority. She was teaching me something I didn't teach my sons and that makes me sad.
Parents, be ready for transition and allow your children to be free. Don't swarm them with "too much" intensity in them leaving a nest and be prepared for the future. I was not and as a result, became less effective as a father and this was not a good thing. In fact, I believe there are many ways I failed as a father as a result. Each and every day, I try to remember that love is unconditional, my prayers are always heard and even if my children are gone, they have not left God. They may not be around me much anymore, but they are serving Him.
Sure, this kind of focus is talking more about transitions for parents who are going through trials. Often, I find myself depressed and sad that my boys are not closer to my life. However, does this do any good? Not at all, so I am learning to focus a prayer life toward the future, their future children, the spouses they will marry and their future children. It's not too crazy to pray several generations ahead.
Months ago, I was talking to one of the mothers from my boys childhood. She is really struggling right now with her kids being gone to college and she has never felt more alone. Her husband is busy at work and she is facing a series of huge issues and needs our prayer. Are you praying for those in transition? Would you be willing to pray for the empty nesters? Would you pray for the children AND the parents?
This week my father came to visit us in Franklin and we did some "bucket list" activities with my Dad. What a great and true blessing it was to be in his life and have "vacation time" together. He always has remembered family and we have stayed close through every transition. This is a cherished treasure for me personally. We went to the National Corvette museum, which was so fun. We visited Churchill Downs and laughed at the 143rd anniversary of people watching. We stopped by my neighbor Doug Paisely's home where his son has "stuff" and had such an amazing time together.
Teach your children to call their parents. Teach your children to stay close to Mom and Dad through everything. Take time to instruct your children how important family is a priority and remember, doing the right thing by your kids is letting them go, but giving them gentle reminders of truth.
Transitions can come in many different ways, so never fear a graduation, get your handkerchiefs out and be prepared to cry, and embrace the future with celebration. Don't let today get too far down the road without praying, interceding and thanking the Lord for the amazing opportunity to pray for children. Many people don't have children and remember them in prayer too. However, don't forget to plan ahead for the future and know that God is in control. Keep praying, you never know when the boys will be heading your way to be with you soon.
While my sons don't read their "old man's" blogs, I am so very proud of their lives in following God. They are being close in walking with the "heavenly Father".
Full of Love,
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.