“I don’t like this,” Seth squirmed in the passenger seat, “I probably won’t see many of my friends again once we leave.”
Seth is about to ‘graduate’ from 8th grade at a private school he has attended since pre-K 3 and even before when he was with a few other kids in a daycare on campus while I worked as a youth minister in the next building. He has literally been with these kids at this school for 12 years of the 14 years of his life.
Turning the page to the next chapter in life can be exciting and yet mixed with anxiety, fear and sadness. The older we get we can look back with appreciation on the many pages turned and chapters written in our lives but looking to the next one still remains mixed with a plethora of emotions.
“I’m sure you’ll have a reunion and get to see many of them again.”
“Yeah, but it won’t be the same.”
I looked at this man-child of mine and felt my own fears and anxieties bubble up. It won’t be the same. My son will go into high school and in the blink of an eye my oldest will graduate with Seth following quickly behind and I’ll be staring at the blank page of an entire new chapter.
“You wouldn’t want it to be the same. Imagine if this were the way your life was to be for the rest of your entire 80+ years. Seeing the same people day in and day out. Taught by the same teachers and never leaving to explore the world, getting out on your own, becoming the man God created you to be. You’d go nuts.”
His eyes widened and his mouth turned back in disgust. “Yeah, okay. No thanks.” He looked out the window and then mumbled, “I just don’t know why we get to know people and then maybe never see them again.”
“Every person we meet, even for a fleeting moment, has a purpose in our lives. Some we’ll know for a season and a handful we might get to grow with for a lifetime but that is why family is so important. Because they are our constant.”
We drove the rest of the way home in silence. The emotions that had risen to the surface threatened to overwhelm my senses and come crashing down around me. I went into my bedroom and tried to sort out every scattered thought that our conversation rustled from deep within.
– I am getting older, there is no stopping it. Soon Neal and I will be alone and free to explore God’s intent for this unwritten chapter in our lives. There is no need to be afraid or to fear and to prepare I need to make the end of this chapter with our children to be fruitful and worth the ‘read’.
– Family remains. How many years have I wasted running away from my family? They weren’t like me therefore I couldn’t waste the energy. I’ve spent so much precious time focusing on the dysfunction of us all that I failed to recognize the love that remained through the dysfunction. A memory of my brother ‘getting’ me (FYI – I believe I recall he stole it) a cassette tape (yes that should date it) for my birthday brought a smile. It was a band I loved and he had heard me talk about wanting the album. Yes, a dysfunctional memory and yet one full of a love that at times I fail to hold onto.
The emotions fell around me despite my desire to keep them in check. And then again I remembered that this was a good thing – to feel. Time ticks ahead and I can’t stop it. I don’t want to because my ultimate goal is life eternal. What I can do is make the most of the day’s blank page.
My siblings are across the United States and I wish I could say it would be easy to drop life and see them on a regular basis but it just isn’t so. But I can pick up a phone and let them know I love them.
No matter where you are in your life journey, or which chapter is being written, make the most of the blank pages by embracing the love God is giving you through friends and family.