My daughter, Grace, left Friday on a year-long missions trip with World Race. I’ve been in constant communication with God since then. This is our conversation.
Grace left four days ago, and I can’t quit crying. I know You know this, but I need to say it because I keep telling everyone that I’m okay. I’m not. I am lonely for her and sad.
I thank You for preparing me over the last 6 years for her to leave, but I’m still finding it hard. You sent her eight hours away to the other end of the state after graduation, and then moved her in the other direction – still eight hours aways – to the middle of another state a year later. Just when I was used to her being that far away, You mercifully gave me nine months to prepare for this trip.
And I do, sincerely, thank You for that time. She has never been longer than 8 hours away, and I knew I could see her at the end of a day’s drive. Just knowing that made the separation a easier. Even the missions trips You took her on during her own preparation were never longer than two weeks.
This is different. This is a year.
I think of all the mothers of missionaries throughout history and wonder how they did it (I should Google it). As far as I can tell, they had it much worse. Those women had no contact with their child, except for a sporadic letter now and again, and for a much longer time than I. How did they do it, knowing they wouldn’t see their son or daughter for years or maybe not ever again? I feel like such a wimp. I live during the Communication Age: we have cell phones, text messaging, FaceTime, Skype. In an instant, I can see her face and hear her voice. I have means Missionary Mothers around the globe and across time would have loved to have at my fingertips – literally – and I feel like I’m dying inside.
How did they do it? How did they make it through until the crushing absence stopped hurting? Even while I write this to You, I know that I won’t stop missing her. The absence will always be there. Eventually, it will not hurt so much. In time, You will teach me to curb my thoughts in order to avoid melting into a blubbering puddle. Right now, I’m not super receptive to that teaching.
Thank You, however, for teaching me how to trust you whole heartedly. In this one area, I feel as if I join those mothers who have walked this very road. Grace’s safety is not a worry. Neither are her finances, her adaptability with her new team, nor her choices (side note: please discourage any new tattoos until she gets home, or to Europe). I am confident that You have all of that infinitely covered and in control. There is an army of people praying for her to which I belong. I trust You called her to this, so I rest assured that You have her in Your care.
I still miss her.
Part of my missing her is tied up in mourning for her, also. She isn’t going to be the same after this trip, so the few days leading up to her trip, I took stock of who she was. I watched her intently: watched how she spoke, listened to what she spoke and how she said it, noted the shine in her eye, and the sparkle in her smile. I tried to soak in everything about her. The Grace who comes back is not going to be the Grace who left. No one, Christian or not, can go on a trip around the world and not be changed. The exposure and experiences changes how one’s perspective of the others, the world, and themselves. Lord, her exposure and experiences are not confined to this physical realm, the here and now. She will be filtering everything through Your Spirit within her. For eleven months, it is with Your eyes she will be seeing the world. For eleven months, it is Your voice with which she will hear the world. How could she return home without being changed? Why would I fool myself into thinking she would be the same? Why would I desire her to come back unchanged?
Watching her walk up the passageway to her gate, I knew I was watching a transition, the last of something and the beginning of another thing. She would never be the same again, and I would miss who she was. This moment was more than bitter sweet. It was and is mournful and exciting. Watching Grace grow into adulthood, watching her embrace the life You has set before her, yet knowing she won’t be the same person when she returns stirs my emotions like a hurricane stirs the ocean. I am mourning the bright eyed, eager young adult leaving this country; at the same time, I am filled with praise, gratitude, and excited wondering at who she will be when she returns. As she walked up those stairs and down the hall, I wasn’t just saying goodbye to the physical her, I was saying goodbye to the person, the character, the essence of her because the next time I see her, she will be different. She will be new.
This day was inevitable, and I knew that.
There is an impossibly wide chasm to be crossed between knowledge and experience for which one cannot prepare.
I have known it for six years and nine months. Now I am experiencing it.
Lord, help me. Comfort me.
I hesitate to post this knowing she will probably read it and feel sad, and I don’t want her to feel that way. I want her to feel free to do whatever You have asked of her. I want her to feel emboldened by that freedom. I want her to experience the love of a parent who is willing to let her go, no strings attached.
Heavenly Father, I cannot keep her. I really want to, but I can’t. What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t release her to You? What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t allow her to wholly depend on You, to the One whom I’ve point her for her entire life? What kind of mother would I be if I wasn’t happy for her life’s new beginning, yet sad for the end of the other?
I want to be that mother who does all those selfish things, but I don’t want to be that mother.
So, I hand her over. She is Yours, wholly and completely.
Go with Grace.
Just like I have Grace, I’ve got you.