Yesterday, our oldest son graduated high school.
This is a scary time for anyone who is graduating school because they have a lot of decisions they need to make.
Do I go to college or in the military or do I just keep working?
Do I want to move away or stay near home?
Will I want to maintain my old friends and life or start completely new?
For me, graduation was almost 30 years ago. By the time I graduated, I had a plan in place for where I wanted to go to college and even how I wanted my life to go. I knew I didn’t want to go into the military and that I did want to go to college. I knew that I wanted to stay close enough to home for the support from my parents but far enough away that I could start my life over.
Our oldest son is nothing like me when I was graduating. Jake is a little aimless. He is perfectly content washing dishes at the local café and coming home to play games on the computer while taking a class here and a class there.
For someone like myself, I find this frustrating.
But it is Jake. He is a really good young man. He’s just aimless.
I keep suggesting to his mom that he join the military. They have great programs that will help the aimless take aim. I don’t think she is as excited about that option as I am.
As I think about him joining the military, I remember how I felt when I was faced with that option. I hated the thought of it.
I was a pacifist. You would never find me holding a gun at anyone, much less joining an organization that focuses on just that. But now I actually wish I would have taken that route. If I knew then what I know now, I would have gone into the service for a few years and taken the training they provide and be more prepared for everything I have endured thus far in life.
You see, Jake is actually a lot more like me at that age than I want to admit. I was somewhat aimless. I knew I was going to college, but so does he. He actually wants to go to Northwestern so that he can get back to Minnesota, the place he left his heart. He just doesn’t know how to make it happen.
How many young men and women graduating high school see the amount of opportunities ahead of them and get overwhelmed? I bet it is a lot more than we realize.
So what is a parent to do when their kid is about to graduate?
I haven’t a fat clue.
You thought I was going to give a list of items that parents should and should not do. You thought I would espouse some sort of wisdom that would help you along the way.
Much like Jake, right now I am aimless.
I know the destination I would like to get him, I just don’t know how to help get him there.
Mimi and I are feeling this out as we go along.
I’ve read a lot of posts lately about how to help a child who is graduating to find their dreams but for almost all of those pieces I read, they were a vision given by God to a specific person for a specific time. If I were to put some of the advice I read into action with Jake, I think it would do more harm than good.
So where do Mimi and I (and Jake) go from here?
Psalm 91:4 – He will cover you with His wings; you will be safe in His care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you.
Psalm 68:19 – Praise the Lord, who carries our burdens day after day; He is the God who saves us.
Psalm 138:3 – You answered me when I call to You; with Your strength you strengthened me.
Psalm 46:1 – God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
A lot of times parents want to help their kids to prevent trouble. I will be the first to tell you, parents, that is impossible. “Kid” in the original Greek is translated “Him who seeks trouble.” Ok, I am joking. But seriously, it should be.
Our job isn’t to teach our children how to avoid trouble. It is to teach them where to go when trouble comes knocking.
Our job isn’t to preserve children in our homes so that they grow weak in understanding and wisdom, it is to let them soar into the world, knowing where they receive their strength.
Our job isn’t to shelter our children, it is to show them that they have a much larger and more protective shelter in the Lord.
So where do Mimi and I go from here with Jake?
We hope the lessons we have taught him will stay in his mind and we will continue to educate him on the strength and grace of our Lord until the day comes when he is pushed out of the nest.
Congratulations, Jake. You earned you right to adult. You have shown society, and us, that you know about responsibility and how to seek out the opportunities. Jake, your mom and I will always be available to you to help you along your way, but we won’t be doing it for you. Because of that, I expect, and long for, some amazing things to come from you. Whether those amazing things include changing the world or simply living out your life in a mundane job somewhere, it is all amazing. It is amazing because God provided us the opportunity to see you grow and He provided you with the opportunity to live. He makes no mistakes. He loves you more than Mimi and I ever could.
Just learn what it means to lean on His understanding more and more and there is no end to what amazing things you will do in this life.