I Didn’t Cry…
I wasn’t real sure how I was going to react when it came time to leave Shelby at college. I tend to get choked up when it comes to things like this, which is a bit ironic. I mean, I’m usually upbeat and have no problem talking. In fact, I’m sure I’ve heard more than one person in my life mutter under their breath, “Man, he never shuts up.” I’m kidding, but admit it; you may have thought it once (or twice). And I find it interesting that I can talk to almost anyone, at anytime, but when it comes to speaking on what I’ll call “matters of the heart,” I can’t seem to do it without becoming a blubbering idiot.
Since becoming a Christian back in 2009, the more I study God’s word and read books on how to put His word into action, I find I want to tell others about what I’m learning. In fact, I dream of being a speaker like Mike Kouba or David Crawford (don’t tell them, though).
And one day, it hit me as I was listening to a Focus on the Family broadcast on the way to work one morning. The person on the show was talking about living out your dreams, and thinking about different ways to do that the way God wants you to do it, not the way you want to do it. Well, I want to tell people about God and how deciding to live my life for Him has changed me dramatically, but I struggle with it. But I also love to write; one reason I enjoy being a lawyer. And it occurred to me that when I prepare to teach a class or lead a devo, instead of preparing an outline of ideas, I tend to write out exactly what I want to say so that I won’t forget to say it exactly how I thought it when I thought it. So I thought to myself (I know, too much thinking), why not try writing instead of speaking?
Which brings me back to leaving Shelby at Harding. When it came time to leave, there was so much I wanted to say to her. I had been jotting down notes on my iPhone the whole time we were in Searcy. But I knew if I started saying those things, I was going to become that blubbering idiot again. And when I looked over at Karrie as we were about to leave and saw the tears in her eyes, I decided I would just write to Shelby instead. So I hugged her and the wonderful friends that were there with her (thank you God for those people!), and we left. Leaving her at the place we did and with the people we did made it a lot easier.
Thankfully, Karrie drove all the way home, so I had the chance to write one of those annoyingly long text messages to Shelby. I would write some, watch a movie with Kelsey, write a little more, eat junk food from a convenience store (a road trip requirement), write a little more, watch another movie with Kelsey, until about eight hours later I finally had written down what I wanted to say to her.
I’ll share the gist of what I wrote, with the hope that maybe someone else will find these words encouraging enough to say (or write) to their child as they take them to college, or anytime really. In a nutshell, I told her that it doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you serve God. If you focus on that, everything else will fall into place and you won’t have to worry about anything. (Matt. 6:33-34) I really believe that with all my heart, because I only started doing that relatively recently. To be sure, I didn’t do this immediately after I was baptized. It took me some time to learn to put my trust in Him. But the more I get to know Him, the more I want to do His will. And when I do, He blesses me in more ways than I can describe with words. Admittedly, I often fail to trust Him, thinking “I got this” (I’m a bit of a know-it-all…gasp!), but it doesn’t take long for my plans to go awry and then I am reminded by His words, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5)
And while I may regret saying this four years from now, I also told her that I don’t care if she changes her major five times, all I hope is that she’ll be a servant. I told her to take chances while in school and not worry about making mistakes. I told her to ask lots of questions, to learn to think critically. I told her to get to know her professors and get excited about her classes. And finally, I told her to have fun and serve God…that’s it. Oh yeah, and I told her to call Kouba now and then, because I know he’s going to miss her a lot, too.