I have been thinking and it seems to me that the WR is a door. For the racers, it is a door to service and humbling themselves. To living life in adventurous pursuit of Christ and all the terrible and wonderful ways that expresses itself. But it is also a door for the parents, not one they get to choose to go through, but a door nonetheless. As the racers abandon the comforts of the lives they have known, the parents are forced to abandon the roles they have always played in their racer’s life. As the racers find areas of hardship that lead to brokenness, the parents find they do not have to leave home to have a broken heart….theirs are broken because their houses are empty. For some the reality of a quiet house draws the pain to the surface. For others, the house may be full, but some in a vague and intangible way there is a gaping hole. When the racers are learning to depend on God for food and transportation, the parents are learning to trust him with their most valuable possession. The whole process brings both racers and parents to the end of themselves.
And hasn’t it always been that way? Our kids drag us into all kinds of things we don’t know anything about. I never knew much about Quiz Bowl until my son signed up. There was basketball and soccer. Drama, dance, and band. With each new activity, I learned a whole new set of rules and skills. And what about the questions they asked along the way? They had me digging to find out where the dinosaurs are in the Bible and scrambling to explain what “Thou shalt not commit adultery” means. God certainly has a sense of humor, and he uses our kids to force us into growth. I don’t know why I thought that would change once they were adults, but I am finding that some of their decisions make me cringe while others bring me to my knees. The WR is one more example of how God puts parents in places we don’t always choose… in order to stretch us. He knows we would die for our kids….and so he uses that knowledge and the love he gave us for them to draw us to himself. Pretty sneaky of him.
Those first few months they are gone, we realize just how little we actually trusted him with our kids before. Now that there is little to no contact, and even less information about their well-being, we become aware of how much we depend on the regular connection with them for our peace of mind. Without it we are plunged into a land of shadows regarding the child that we have tried so hard to love well for so long. Fear raises its ugly head, and we find that we recognize its face. We find that it has been a parenting companion that we didn’t even know was along for the ride. It forces us to choose. Do we believe God has them or fret and worry for the whole year? We have to make a choice to believe that God has them in the midst of typhoons, and political upheaval. We have to trust that he carries them when they are ill, or heartbroken. That is hard. Really hard.
Most of us smile and nod, because that’s what you do when you are a parent. You put your own feelings aside, minimize them, and even criticize yourself for “not having enough faith” to be happy for your racer. Inside you grieve and wonder if that hollow place will ever go away. It is the cutting away that is so painful. Not only is your child gone, but your role is gone, your identity is gone…at least it feels that way. These powerful feelings pull and tug your heart into bits. And your head, well it is no help. It says things like “this is what you raised them for” and “you knew this was coming.” All of this leaves you feeling conflicted as the sweet mixes with the bitter and you swallow hard to make the medicine go down. It is a pruning. Nobody likes to be pruned, yet…if you can survive it…the fruit on the other side will be abundant.
This is where the WR becomes a catalyst for growth and change. When was the last time you sought the Lord, just for his own sake? As parents we pour so much time into our kids’ spiritual formation sometimes we neglect our own. We don’t do this intentionally, we just feel weight of the responsibility we have as parents. We live lives in a righteous busyness that allows for very little digging into the deeper things. But now, the kids are growing and going. And now that we have this quiet house and time to sit in it, we have forgotten what to do. How do you reconnect with God in the ways you did when you had time to pray daily? Or maybe we never connected to him before…so how do you start? You find yourself at a hard but beautiful starting point for the next season.
What? You thought you were done? No way! You still have the 2nd act to go. Not only is your life not over, it is full of just as much promise as when you were younger, only now you have the wisdom to go with it. That’s got to be a good thing right? What was your vision before life got in the way? Do you have unfulfilled dreams? Was there something you felt called to that never materialized? It’s time to take a look, and brush off the cobwebs. God’s got your child. Really. This breaking away is for your good as well as your racers. There is a new place you are going. You have your own race to run. There is revival for your weary heart. There is renewal for your dreams. There is restoration for your parched soul . Just reach out and take it from the Father’s hand. But first, you have to let go of your child’s hand. You can do it. Just believe what you know is true and allow the truth to refresh you, and rest in his faithfulness. Be inspired by your racer to seek after your own adventure. Remember adventure? Has it been so long that you have forgotten what freedom feels like? I am not saying that you have to go around the world…though you might. I am saying open your eyes to what is around you. Get your eyes off of the fear. God has uniquely gifted you, and placed you right where you are. He will show you where to start…what baby steps to take that will empower you to live your kingdom life. The days are rich with opportunity, right in your own backyard. I don’t believe that coasting mode is what I was made for. I believe that the best is yet to come. What do you believe?