In August of 2005, my mom along with my aunt and uncle made the 2.5 hour haul to my new home where I would attend college as a first time freshman. I really had no choice but to experience enormous growth as I learned how to become the independent, responsible adult I was raised to be.
As the baby of the family, my parents had gone through this before – this was not their first rodeo. They lovingly had a “sink of swim” approach to parenting. Of course I always knew they would be there for me but I was expected to take care of things all on my own. For instance, a few weeks into that first semester I noticed that my bank account was a little lower than I’d like after purchasing all of my textbooks. I wanted a little extra money to go out and spend time with friends off campus. My first thought was to just give my mom and dad a call and ask them to put a little extra money in my account – ha! Totally kidding! That thought NEVER entered my mind! No, I went on campus and found a job. I knew they would have a good laugh at that request. I had a place to sleep, I had a meal plan, anything outside of those essentials I could work to earn on my own.
As I mentioned in pt 1 of this series, my faith came alive for me as a college freshman and my parents could see that. When I told my mom that I wanted to go down to Biloxi, MS just 6 weeks after Hurricane Katrina to do relief work, she was supportive but very skeptic of what I’d be able to do to help these family whose homes we would be gutting so they could rebuild. To be honest, I was skeptic too but I wanted to serve. When I returned, she told me she could see a real change in me. And she was right.
Now fast forward a year —> I shared with my mom that I felt I wanted to go and serve in missions somewhere for the whole summer. She replied, “Oh I don’t know Case, you really need to work. You have bills to pay… Hey! Why don’t you go back to Mexico for a week like last year? You loved those kids and had such a good time!” The time came around and I applied for a one week trip like we had discussed. My mom was right. I needed to work again that summer. Except she wasn’t right at all. My mom was a great mom who helped me keep my head on straight and make logical decisions but this was no matter of logic, it was one of faith.
I arrived at summer missions interview weekend ready to tell a panel of campus ministers why I felt led to go on a one week trip but it wasn’t long until I realized that wasn’t true at all. God had impressed on my heart to give my entire summer to serving Him, not just a week. And so on faith that’s what I told the panel. And at the end of the day, I had been selected to spend my summer in Maine, where there are more evangelical churches within a 5 mile radius of my current Nashville home than in their entire state.
When I got home, I sat down with my mom absolutely terrified as I told her what happened at Interview Weekend, where I would be spending my summer and laid out my plan of how much it would cost, how much I would need to save to cover my bills for while I would be gone and how I planned to raise all of the money. I just knew I would hear her lists of all the reasons why I needed to stay home and work but instead she said, “ok”.
My mom knew that this change in me that she had seen for over a year was not going away. She knew I was an independent, strong, determined woman and that I would find a way to make this happen because that’s who she raised me to be.
I write all of this because during my time in campus ministry, I have been heartbroken for students who do not have that same support from their Christian parents when they feel God calling them to serve in missions.
And so I write this to parents of college students. I can only imagine what a tough season this is for you. You have raised these babies under your roof for their entire lives and now they’ve moved away from home and they are making all of these big plans and life altering decisions without you. But I beg you to take a step back and look at the child you have raised. All of that pride that you feel, you should because they are strong and beautiful and God has created them for a specific purpose. Please don’t stand in their way. Trust that you have raised good kids who are now adults and you have to let them be just that and let them make their own decisions.
You children are going struggle with not having your full support because they have honored you as God commands their entire lives but it is God who has ultimate authority over their lives. When they go and do these things without your support, they are not being disobedient to you – they are simply being obedient to God. You have to step aside and allow them to follow God’s direction for their lives even when it is different than what you think is best. This is just as much a step of faith for you as it is for them. Trust that just as God has taken care of you, so He will take care of them.
Before I left to serve in Maine, I received a couple of checks in the mail from churches I had never attended. I had no idea how they had learned of my summer in Maine and so I asked my mom if she knew anyone from these churches. She said, “Well I didn’t want to tell you and get your hopes up incase no one sent you any money but I made copies of your support letter that you sent to our church and I sent it to every church in West TN.” Even when it didn’t make sense, she supported me whole heartedly. And when I got home from Maine that summer, she asked, “so where will you spend next summer?”
I often question what my life would be like if I had just went on a one week trip that summer. Sure I would have worked and made money but God worked in my life that summer in ways that have completely shaped me into who I am today. I will forever be grateful that my mom took that leap of faith with me despite our best logic. God took care of every detail and is still taking care of me today just as she had always prayed He would.
You have raised incredible kids. Now let them rise up into adulthood and follow God’s will for their lives like you have always prayed they would.