We dropped our son off at college last month. It was probably the scariest moment I’ve had to face as a parent. He’s a fine young man and has a great track record of choosing wonderful friends but college takes freedom and choice to a whole new level.
My mind has a way of going down the everything-that-could-possibly-go-wrong path. In the middle of the night, this path wakes me up with disaster and sweat. During the day, I add fuel to those dreams with online research. (Why do I do that?)
I need help.
Thankfully, I know where to go when I need help.
I’ve heard that you pray more for your adult children than your child-sized children and the old adage is proving true.
I read my Bible and God brings promises, like this:
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 NIV
My Bible is a proven source of comfort.
The day we moved my son into his dorm I woke up early to spend a few minutes with Jesus. I found a promise that I know is mine to stand on in these college years.
He has shaped each person in turn; now he watches everything we do. Psalm 33:15 MSG
My son is hours away. I can’t watch him. The digital age allows parents to play private eye, but as much as we are able to track the social footprints of our children I’m not sure it’s helpful to them or us at this stage in the journey. We are given a window of shaping responsibility in our children’s lives. I feel like God is telling me it’s his turn.
We got to visit our son last weekend. His room smells like dirty socks but he’s doing great. We see him taking initiative and responsibility and it’s good to see.
Over the weekend, we also ran into one of his peers making foolish choices. I texted my son and voiced my concern.
The next day I wanted to text again and use the event to address and shape behavior. But before my thumbs could spell out all my best intention, God and I had this conversation in my head:
“Remember, I’m shaping him now.”
“But God, how will I know he’s getting it?”
“You won’t know. You’ll have to trust. I work from the inside out and it takes more time to see.”
I know it’s true. God works from the inside out in me. I work from the outside in. I will-power my way into behavior modification that doesn’t stick. The most transformational growth in my life began on the inside and didn’t produce visible results for months, even years.
As I walk through this new parenting season and pray for God to work in my son’s life, the battle is real. I choose to trust but still want to Twitter stalk him every day, all day. I choose to let go but still wrestle with not texting every single time he crosses my mind. I choose to trust but still find myself typing worst-case scenarios into Google searches. I need God to work in me. I don’t want to be afraid. I don’t want to be worrisome. I want to be free. How do I find freedom?
All Sons and Daughters answer the question beautifully, poetically in the words of a song.
Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender.
We come before You, lay our burdens down.
We look to You as our hearts remember,
You are the only God.
In every season and every situation, freedom comes from the inside out.