I've long been convinced that God grants us the gift of children in order to help us understand both His nature and His capacity to love us. As my children grow into adulthood, this message gains a clarity that takes my breath at times.
As I settled into my seat in church Sunday, my heart became tender, and tears began to fall. I'm not much of one to cry -- let alone in public. Really, this wasn't crying so much as a reaction to a welling up in my spirit that just happened to fall out of my tear ducts.
I haven't had a chance to explain in print just yet how my career took us away from our Shelbyville home. I spent nearly a literal seven years in the desert, and returned home with apt parallels to the biblical prodigal to be drawn.
I left behind my Mini-me, a daughter whose resemblance extends to the very pattern of the freckles on my body. She's a better person at 22 than I was at the same age, and my heart cheers for her as I see her make Right choices again and again.
She's made other choices I don't agree with, even while I recognize they are fully hers to make. At her age, all Mom can do is state an opinion. After all, I can't drag out the "m-word" until my fears prove true. Only the Lord and I know the full degree to which I created my own m's.
Other than summer camp, she and I haven't been apart more than a handful of days. Even when she moved into her own place a couple of years ago, she was at my house so often, I joked it was as though she never left. When I picked her up at the airport on Thursday, we had been apart more than nine weeks.
In my thoughts anticipating our time together, the coda was that we'd go to church on Sunday, and then I'd take her back for her flight. And so -- this not-crying thing began to happen to me. Tom held my hand tightly, and a friend who just sent her son off to boot camp the week before hugged me and whispered love in my ear as the congregation greeted one another.
I had a lot of thoughts in my mind -- primarily, that I love that girl enough to let her go. I was happier than I let on that she was home and with me. I knew she was going to go away again.
I drove her to the airport on Sunday, when everything in me wanted to lock her in her room until she came to her senses. But she's a grown-up girl, and even if it kills me, I can see that she has to walk through things that will cause her pain before she comes home to me again.
I held my tongue all weekend, but on the drive to the airport, I spoke to her heart as much as I could. I gave her my wisdom. I reminded her that I had 'known' her since she was the size of a bit of rice. I 'know' her now, I 'see' her perfectly -- but can never let on how well, because no one likes to think someone else has them all figured out -- let alone their mom.
Which brings me back to the cause of all that welling up on Sunday. While reflecting on our time together -- our past, our weekend, her future -- I placed the pattern of all these thoughts, everything I was feeling about the Beautiful Miss Brooke, over what I've learned about the nature of my Father while on my own journey. She longs for the same things now that I did then. A new path for her, a traveled one for me. The One who knows me better than anyone found a teaching moment, reminded me that He had also said of me often, "I love that girl," and even "I can see that she has to walk through things that will cause her pain ..."
May my heart always be tender enough to be taught.
-- Tracy Simmons writes for the Times-Gazette and may be reached at TheSpiritedScribe@gmail.com.