I read this quote on someone's Facebook status this morning and I thought "Exactly." This week I sent my first child off on her first mission trip, which is to Peru. It was a much harder experience than I expected it to be, because she was so nervous and unsure, which made me want to just pull her back into my arms and say "It's okay, you don't have to go, you can just stay home with me." But, of course that kind of response would be just the opposite of what would be good and healthy for any child or parent.
The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard. ~Sloan Wilson
I was never really one to get upset sending my kids off to school, or sleepovers, or really anywhere else. So I was caught off-guard when I became so emotional about sending her this time. (Of course, it was to a foreign country, on a different continent, with only a few people she knows....but all of that aside...) Kate has always been one to be happy to go off with people...even in kindergarten she went to spend a week with my aunt in Virginia and didn't really even bat an eye. But this time there was much more 'unknowns' and no real 'out' if it doesn't go well. I think this was in the back of both of our minds as the trip grew closer. But she knew herself this would be a stretching time, and in fact, on her application actually listed it as one of the reasons she wanted to be a part of it. I also know it will be stretching for her, which I'm all for, but usually I like my kids to be stretched by me, where I can be in control of making sure they are protected as well as challenged.
But obviously, this isn't a realistic expectation or desire, and so, life continues on, taking my babies further and further out on their own and away from my protective wing. What a good and healthy thing, right? Yes, I know it is. Honestly, I actually do look forward to my kids growing up and becoming healthy, independent adults, but more and more I'm starting to realize what a bitter-sweet thing that will be. I want more than anything to see them walking with and serving the Lord with their lives, in any way He leads them (even if it is far away from my watchful eye.) It certainly has stirred up my prayer life, seeing the need to keep them constantly covered in prayer, asking God to keep them (since I can't - and He does a much better job than me anyway!) and to continue to draw them to himself, and plant His purposes in their hearts.