It’s a feeling I’d have been expecting a few months from now. It should hit when the school year ends, and I realize my oldest daughter is officially a high school junior, and I only have two more years to expect her to come walking in our door every night, going to sleep in that queen-sized bed, leaving socks and pajamas in a pile on the floor every morning.
So to get teary-eyed about my daughter growing up on a random February morning caught me by surprise. Though I’ll admit that I cry a lot more easily these days, and it doesn’t take much to get me all sentimental. But this time a picture did it.
No, it wasn’t the one of her holding the driver’s license she got last week, nor the cute picture she posted on Instagram from her elementary school days. It was a picture of a boat on a lake at sunset.
That picture prompted these thoughts.
It’s like that sweet daughter has spent years here with us, safe in the harbor. Her dad and I have directed where she went and when. We’ve been able to guide and correct that boat to a great degree. Not that there weren’t rough winds and waves splashing up on the shore and rocky paths to navigate together. There were – and I’m sure there are still some more ahead of us.
But before long now, she’ll push away from the dock, set off in her own boat, begin the voyage that will take her out into the life that God has for her. And that little boat will seem so tiny out on that big ocean all by itself. She’ll chart her own course as we watch, sometimes from nearby, sometimes from far away.
So, since I’m an ex-school teacher, and always take the opportunity to slip a little advice her way, I thought I’d have some words of wisdom ready for her as she navigates her way out into the world.
1. Let God be your captain. Pray for His guidance, study His Word, yield to His leading. Nothing is more important. He will always guide you well.
2. Be true to yourself. God made you special. He put dreams and desires in your heart that He meant you to fulfill. Don’t allow other people to dictate who you become or where you go, but follow the course that’s meant for you.
3. Love those God gives you with all your heart. Treasure the relationships you have, whether it’s friends, a husband, children. Be loyal and passionate in loving your people.
4. Be bold and brave in chasing your dreams. Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone, and fight your fears. It’s fitting that we talked about this quote just a few weeks ago.
5. Make time to serve others. Life will be mighty empty if you make it all about yourself. Wherever you are, find a way to bless someone else, to make another person’s life a little easier and a little happier.
6. Live in the present. Don’t think that when you reach that certain port you’ll finally be truly happy. Whether it’s marriage or parenting or that promotion or a ministry opportunity, don’t waste today wishing for tomorrow. In fact, when you look back, you just may see that the actual journey was more fulfilling than the reward.
And I’ll finish by taking that last piece of advice for my own. I’m not going to wish I was back in the preschool phase or the elementary days, nor am I going to waste the next 2 1/2 years dreading her high school graduation. I’m going to wash that school uniform tonight and pack her lunch tomorrow morning and let her drive us down the highway to school – and enjoy today’s moments as they come.