Friday was a big day for us. We drove our firstborn child to a destination four hours from home. We dropped him off with people we barely know to live in a tiny room with minimal possessions and a complete stranger.
No big deal.
Seriously though, college move-in day was actually kind of fun. Andrew’s roommate is a sophomore so he moved in a day after the big freshman move-in day. That gave us space to arrange the furniture and give Andrew first pick of his bunk, closet and desk.
Our son was nervous, as he should be, and anxious about being so far away from his family, friends and girlfriend. College is a daily and constant process of being pushed out of your comfort zone in every way. You are living in a small and not-so-comfortable space with someone you just met. You share a bathroom with a bunch of guys. You eat the same cafeteria food every day. You have to make all new friends. And you are going to be challenged to a new level academically.
It’s going to be tough if you are constantly comparing that to home, where you are surrounded by people you love, have a comfortable living space and have everything you need right at your fingertips.
I kept repeating the same phrase to him: “You have to engage in what’s happening right now.”
The more I said it, the more I realized this is true for me, as well.
This led me to a three-part phrase that I’ve been telling myself over and over and decided to write on my chalkboard when I got home: Cherish the past. Engage in the present. Embrace the future.
I’ll explain what it means to me by working in reverse:
EMBRACE THE FUTURE
As I’ve been learning more and more about becoming brave this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about trusting God for the future.
I know that God has led me to this new place in my life for a reason. I’ve known for a few years that big changes were coming. But it’s been hard to trust that they are for a GOOD purpose. If I truly believe that something good is going to happen in the future, then I would EMBRACE what’s coming, even when it’s unknown.
When I think about my past life with longing, I remind myself that what God has planned for me in the future is even better than the things I loved about the past. Focusing on this helps me “Embrace the future.”
ENGAGE IN THE PRESENT
But it’s hard to do that in the moment when I can’t see what is next for me. The waiting period is difficult. It’s scary, lonely and feels pointless at times.
Instead of longing for the past or hoping for the future, I know I need to ENGAGE in the present.
What can I do each day to fully enjoy right where I am? I don’t want to spend my days counting down until I see our son again. I want to enjoy our new family dynamic. I want to maximize the added time I have with each child now that I only have three living at home, instead of four.
I want to fully enjoy the freedom I have of not going to a traditional job. I want to pursue my interests, build stronger relationships and maximize my time to take care of my home. I want to engage in the present with open hands and an open heart.
CHERISH THE PAST
That doesn’t mean I have to forget about the past, ignore it or act like I didn’t love it. The hardest part about dropping our son at college wasn’t how much I was going to miss him when he’s gone. It’s accepting that a part of my life that I absolutely loved has now ended. I will never again have four children living at home (as children).
When he comes back from college, he will have experienced life on his own. I can still guide him and give him advice. But I am done with the “raising” part. I didn’t want that part to end. I have to accept that I can’t go back, but I can still love the memories of those years. It’s OK to CHERISH the past, without constantly longing for it.
So, those are the words I wrote on my chalkboard when we got home on Sunday. I got some gluten contamination while we were on the road, so I wasn’t feeling well most of the day. It gave me time to sit quietly working on my chalkboard project, which turned out to be a ton of fun. You can click here to read about how I created my own chalkboard “paste” and cut out a stencil to write the words on my chalkboard.
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