All the First Day of School Feelings

8:51 AMHeather

I'm sitting here with my cup of coffee in an empty house. Empty and quiet. And I'm totally conflicted. I feel half elation at welcoming a rhythm and routine that the school year brings. And I feel half grieved. Because something amazing happened this summer. 

My kids are reaching ages where I am totally crazy for the people they are becoming. I've enjoyed some much needed one-on-one time with each of my three beloveds, and I laughed and smiled and made duck faces and peace signs and marveled at how much I can enjoy my kids. How much I can converse and interact with them. How I'm transitioning into more of a coaching season of parenthood. I'm in that place where I can step back and cheer them on from the sidelines. Perhaps running in as a referee at times to throw a penalty flag. But, no longer in a season of the demands of their younger years.

It really is a wonder. Just you wait, you moms of littles. Just you wait. It's going to get good. Like that first time your little bundle of absolute dependence smiles and laughs at you and melts your heart because you see more than just being their caregiver.

It's like that. 

On a much larger scale. 

And so, my heart hurt in a new way this morning. My stomach flipped in unison with my new middle-schooler when she expressed her nerves as she asked me to straighten her hair and she confided all of her feelings to me. I soaked in the moment and thanked God for this precious relationship I get to have with my girl. That she trusts me and lets me in. At all. For now, anyway.

I know that might change. 

I looked at my two high school boys and just held back the tears. Because for the first time, I am not driving all my kids to school. So, I covered my angst with a big joke about walking those tall boys to their first classes at the high school and taking their picture with their teacher. I threatened and laughed. They scowled and protested.

Oh--another side note of the goodness to come in the teen years. Totally annoying your kids. And getting a good kick out of it. 

So the boys rolled their eyes as I took pictures while they loaded into my oldest son's car and I demanded one more photo. They were snickering at my motherly ways as they drove off.

But deep down, I think they know that it's all because of my fierce love for them. 

My heart was feeling the ache of realizing I have just one more back to school year with my oldest and then our nest begins to empty.

But then, I walked in and found our dog on the kitchen table eating the leftover bacon. Finally, we got to witness how he manages that very rare feat. The laugh was just what I needed. As we say about our rescue dog, you can take the dog off the streets, but you can't take the street out of the dog.

So, here I sit. Sipping leisurely on a second cup of coffee and scrolling through social media at all the first day of school photos. 

And all the first day of school feelings are overwhelming me. I see the children of friends who were just babies, but now tower over their parents. And the friend who posted a lonely, empty front door because her kids are both off to college this year. I remember a first day of school where she and I prayed together for our children. It couldn't have been that long ago?

So, here's what I have to say, over all these first day of school people. The moms. The dads. The kids. The grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles.

Be in awe. Stop and mark this moment and be in awe. Be in awe of all the things that God has done for you and through you. Be in awe of a fresh new school year, stretching out ahead, full of promise. Be in awe of the potential of new friendships. New lessons. New challenges. New triumphs. New victories. And new growth through new defeats, even.

It's a whole new year. A new season for God to do new things. I am so challenged by my study of Nehemiah right now that I'm asking God to help me pray big prayers for big things and believe the truest things about him.

Rather than just asking that my girl make some new friends in middle school or that the God's Girls group that I lead would go well, this is what I'm asking. "Lord, use this group of girls who are seeking you to start a revolution. Raise up this generation to stand bold for you and denounce the enemy's attacks on them and believe you to use them to spread your light into every dark place they see. Right where they are. Every day. To do whatever you ask of them. To offer an encouraging word to the classmate who seems broken. To invite the child sitting alone to come join the crowd. To use their gifts and talents and time to go where you ask, do what you want, and spread your fame all around."

Rather than just asking that my boys have a good year at the high school, I'm adding this. "God, ignite their hearts with a burning passion to pursue you wholeheartedly. To stand against the flow. To be your witnesses and your hands and feet to all that brokenness. To not just say no to the temptations, but to be equipped to help lead others out, as well. To be the ones who reach into the hurting teen on the verge of despair. To be the ones who believe that even teenagers can do hard things, dream big dreams, and make huge differences." 

Mamas, I'm not just asking that God help us mother our kids well. I'm asking him to equip us to rebuild broken walls of generational sin. To be the ones who help to restore our generation and the next to a people who believe that his grace is deep enough for all, his love is wide enough for all, and his power is strong enough to use us ordinary people to do extraordinary things. I'm asking that we become a people who believe that the common denominator of Jesus is enough to span racial differences, political differences, socioeconomic differences--ALL the differences. Unity was clearly his teaching for his church. That we shake off our "us and them" mentality that happens in holy huddles and we become a "we are all us" people who dare to step out and into the needs around us. That we would dare to see our few years here on earth in light of the eternity and be bold and courageous to throw all we have at whatever God asks of us. That we could be brave enough to surrender. Moment by moment. Day by day. Choosing God's ways and teachings over our own selfish motives.

It's a lot. All these big feelings and big fears and big questions and big dreams. 

And may we all--every last kid and every single adult-- step into this first day of a new school year trusting that we serve a God big enough to use even our tiny selves for incredible purposes. That he equips each of us with what those around us need, and that we would be daring enough to share it generously.

Let's do this. Let's do this new school year and ask God for big things for his fame alone. Begging him to help us think the truest things about him. Because if the gospel is true, then we serve a God who gave it all on our behalf and held nothing back. 

So, let's not play a tiny game when there's a cosmic battle going on. Let's believe him to be enough to accomplish his good purposes and good works through us and in us and for us.

Every single day.

In every single angst filled moment of our lives. When our heart doesn't know whether to high five or break down in tears because of all the new going on around us.

Doing new things is his specialty, after all. Let's pause long enough in our busy lives to begin to look carefully for it in every single new day.

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