Fourteen years ago, our sweet girl was nearly born at the school where Ben and I teach. I went into labor at our school’s 8th grade graduation, and she was born the next day–the last day of school before summer vacation. And she has been at our school nearly every day since then. She took her first volleyball to the face as a toddler while she was in our gym as we coached; we soaked in the joy watching her toddle around the gym floor as she was learning to walk; she raced around the school’s halls riding her bike while her parents were working at night (oh the joys of being a faculty kid); and we’ve watched as she has journeyed through each of the classrooms, through every grade, and down every wing of our school as the years rolled by until two weeks ago when she ended that journey and exited our school’s doors for the last time as a student.
What a special day her 8th grade graduation was. A celebration with livelong friends and families. From getting hair, nails, and makeup done, to riding in a limo as a class, to receiving diplomas, to playing games together after the ceremony…it was a day to remember.
And I am 92.8 percent super exited for the next phase in Liz’s life…for her journey into high school alongside four of her classmates who will be attending the same school. But 7.2 percent of me is sad, selfish…and a bit lost. All of these years one of my big purposes was to serve alongside my family at our school. We have truly been blessed beyond measure for the time we’ve had together. Now, a quarter of my family will no longer be there. And though I am so thankful to have the other quarters still together, I miss, I GRIEVE the one quarter that won’t be. As only a math teacher can say, Ben put it this way: “For 28 percent of my life, or the past 11 years, I brought my little girl to school with me every day. And that ended on Tuesday. I am an emotional and very, very proud daddy. She is a special girl.”
And we have been teaching, socializing with, living life with her classmates and their families for the better part of a decade. These students truly have become like our children. They leave a void that won’t be filled.
The transition, the change, life’s temporariness hits me at strange times…like when I was removing my sports pictures from my bulletin board the last day of school, and I realized that I will never again take pictures of Liz’s class playing sports at our school. I spent a silent moment in tears in the hallway while the disassembling of the board was completed. The mourning also comes when I enter into our gym and see my baby’s name and those of her classmates on our sports championship banners. And I miss them. My heart aches.
And my purpose waivers a bit.
Life’s changes, even positive, good ones, are rarely easy, at least for me. My mind doesn’t readily wrap around transitions. And my heart seems to lag behind about a lap as life races its 1600 meters. At some point my soul will accept the change and the rhythm of life will become somewhat steady again…at least for a time. But during the transition, I cry to the Lord to be so very real to me. To lead me along the path of life. “Lead me in the right path, O LORD, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow” Psalm 5:8. Because I do know, even if my heart is slow to follow, that His purpose for me isn’t based on circumstances or even in being a mom. My identity is found only in Him and what He did on the cross to save my soul. And He is enough. More than enough. And out of worship for who HE is and what HE has done, He calls me to love…to love Him and others…wherever life’s transitions take me.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).