Desperation, Deliverance and Other Words That Start With “D”

So many friends with children leaving home to start college — or moving out for a first job. I composed this about 15 years ago, as we prepared to send our daughter off at college. . .

Desperation. Our oldest child, our only daughter, my friend, my sister, my heart will be leaving for college soon. It occurred to me in the wee hours of this morning that our family will be forever diminished by her absence. We have watched her foray out for a day trip here and there — a few hours at the beach; a few days keeping a house-sitting friend company — but never before have we had to prepare for her long term and ultimately permanent absence. Oh, she’ll be home for an occasional weekend. She’ll come home for winter break. But she won’t really be coming home. She’ll be coming to the place that used to be her life. Our home will soon become the place she visits while she’s waiting for the rest of her life.

And I am desperate. Desperate to tell her everything she will need to know to live without us. Desperate to keep her from the pain and sadness that is inevitably intermingled with success and joy from living in the world. Desperate to somehow impart the absolute and boundless love, admiration, pride and respect we have for her not only as our daughter, but as a fellow human being on this earth. Our loss as a nuclear family is the world’s gain — a strong, beautiful, brilliant and good member of the world community has sprung forth! And I am desperately grieving her impending departure.

I know that this kind of desperation is sinful. It demonstrates my lack of trust that God will enfold her with his love and protection. It proves that while I know He will always be with her to help her deal with the disappointments as well as the victories, I lack the will to allow Him alone to play that role. It shows my lack of confidence in myself and the job I did as a parent, mother, friend to my precious daughter. It is a desperation born of fear.

How can I reconcile this face of desperation with my belief that God is a good and loving God? How do I proceed from this point on, confident that God will continue to be, not only in the margins but at the core of my daughter’s life — and mine! My prayers for her safety and care continue to be lifted on high. My grief is over losing a part of me and my life that has been not only the margins, but the core. She will thrive. She will fall down. She will love and live and grow into the extraordinary human being that only God can envision. My hesitancy is only because I love her so much.

Perhaps sin is too strong a word? But my lack of confidence is not in her. Or in God. Not really. It is in the world. My desperation reminds me how absolutely and completely we must all rely on God to get us through the transitions in our lives. He is at the heart of every milestone, joyous or sad. He is the heart of every day of our lives.

My desperation reveals a stumbling block in my faith life. But mostly, it reveals how desperately I seek the face of God. How I long to know the answers to the burning questions I pose to Him every day in my prayers. Desperate to know my child will grow into the woman He has planned for her to become. Desperate to believe that I have done the best I could to help her on that journey.

And while I am certain it is not enough — has never been enough — I trust that God was there to fill in the margins when I was not wise enough or strong enough to do what needed to be done.

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