by Joanie Butman
Mother’s Day this year marks my advancement to yet another phase of motherhood. Today my daughter graduates from college. I couldn’t think of a better gift to celebrate Mother’s Day. It’s true that you never actually graduate from motherhood as it is a life-long commitment. Still, you certainly experience many transitions during your tenure.
The thing about motherhood is that it takes years to see the fruits of your labor. Sure, God gives us glimpses at times just to encourage us to stay the course during the tween and teenage years. There’s no better reward for a mom than to watch her child launch into adult life eager (and prepared) to take on the world.
My daughter is bursting with excitement about starting her first full-time job, living in New York, getting ‘real’ furniture and embarking on her ‘real’ life. I suppose most people consider the growth years as training and practice for this critical moment. The truth of the matter is that life itself (all of it) is just that – a training ground preparing us for our ultimate ‘graduation.’ As a Christian, I believe death is just the beginning. It’s a commencement exercise of sorts, marking the start of new life in a place where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4) We’ve graduated from the school of life – each with varying degrees of brokenness. Yet, we arrive in Heaven as a new creation eager to start our very ‘real’ eternal life. Our graduation gown is one of righteousness bought by the blood of Jesus, which graciously covers our cracked and sometimes fractured souls. And here’s the best part: For someone who never excelled in academia, I can finally achieve Summa Cum Laude status – thanks to Christ.
I won’t be thinking about my ultimate graduation while I proudly watch my daughter accept her diploma. Well, maybe briefly, and with overwhelming praise and thanksgiving. There was a time it was doubtful I would make it to her high school graduation, never mind college. Other than that, I’ll probably be wondering what kind of neuroses I contributed to during her formative years with my many less than stellar parenting moments.
I will also be breathing a massive sigh of relief realizing that despite my numerous parenting fiascos, she blossomed into a beautiful young woman inside and out. Makes me appreciate the fact that I’m merely a co-parent with God. Luckily, He fills the gap during those frequent moments of temporary mothering insanity. There’s no other explanation. After all, our kids are His first. Plus, He’s got much more experience dealing with rebellious children. So, if you’re one of those women who feels woefully inadequate at times regarding your parenting, relax. He’s got your back. He can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
I would never push my children out into the world unprepared for life. It’s taken years of tedious repetition (when I was convinced they weren’t listening) to impart a value system that I hope they choose to adopt as adults. The same can be said for God. He wants to prepare us and strengthen us for the challenges of life. Nevertheless, we have to participate in that training by choosing to study His word, spend time with Him and LISTEN. As Rick Warren commented this week, “You don’t know how to live until you’re ready to die. You’re going to die someday. Only a fool would go through life totally unprepared for something that everybody knows is inevitable.”*
Are you prepared for your ultimate graduation?
*Daily Hope with Rick Warren, You Can Be Confident About Your Future, May 2, 2016.