I remember all too well when I sent our baby girl off to Nashville. I missed her. I missed my son, Cole, and his wife, Kelsey, who lived in Texas for that season. I missed my whole family being together. I just missed them…ALOT. And though I knew in my head that they couldn’t live with me forever, the send off still stung my heart. There’s just something that happens to the hearts of us moms, when we send our babies off.
Some of you know this feeling all too well. Some of you are approaching that college, military, or career send off, and dreading the days approaching it. As I sat with the Lord and thought about you this morning, I was reminded of all the many “send-offs” we give our children. We send them off to kindergarten for first time (I remember this like it was yesterday, questioning how my babies had grown up), then to elementary school, then all the way up to high school…that one made me feel old! We send them on their first spend-the-night trip. We send them to their first camp (I folded Cole’s clothes up and numbered them; he returned with the same clothes I sent him off in, and all the other clothes still numbered and neatly folded… and yes, he stunk). We send them on their first mission trip. All of them unique. All of them special moments. And all of them somewhat grieving as a mother, realizing that our babies are growing up. But hear this in the depths of your being: every send-off is absolutely necessary and highly beneficial. As a matter of fact:
Everything we go through is absolutely necessary
and highly beneficial. Everything.
Here’s 3 important things to remember as we send off our babies:
1. Every send-off is preparation for their BIG send-off into adulthood.
Think about that. Each and every send-off prepares your child to launch out on their own one day. It prepares them for living in relationship with others who may have been raised differently. It prepares them to become learners and to grow. It prepares them to be discerning. Prepares them to be givers. Prepares them for a walk with God that is personal. You will not always be there to tell them what God would have them do. Each send-off helps them own their faith in a whole new way. You can coach them with each send-off as to what they will encounter, but they will have to learn how to choose and hang onto their faith even if they must stand alone. Every send-off is preparing them to launch into this world as salt and light.
2. Their purpose has already been prepared for them by God.
We can trust our children into the hands of a Father who loves them even more than we do, and created them with an assignment to fulfill. They will have ups and downs on this journey and will have to make difficult choices at various points in the journey, but they must go through those difficulties to get to their purpose. We can’t intervene and try to avoid the hardships. We simply must be there with love when they come. Again, every single thing they go through is absolutely necessary, and highly beneficial for them. They MUST go through these experiences to be ready to fulfill the purposes for which they were created.
3. Their send-offs send YOU to your knees.
I don’t think we fully understand the power of our prayers. While our children are away from us, the one thing that is greater than our presence is our prayers. Sometimes my children will share with me their struggles, and everything in me wants to fix it and make it all better, just like my hugs, kisses, and tear-wiping did when they skint their knees as children. And though their hurts as adults are often deeper than neosporin and Bandaids, our prayers are the healing they truly need. As Dale and I were talking about it, Dale said, “We just can’t yank them out of the street when a car is coming anymore, huh?” Yep, it used to feel that easy. We can’t shelter them from the hurtfulness of the world, but we can and must send them off, accompanied by our prayers.
Our prayers are often greater than our presence.
Look at how Jesus treated His disciples. He invited them into relationship. Then, He spent three years pouring His life into them, preparing them for what was to come. From the attitudes they would need to develop, to the way they were to live in response to how they were treated and what they faced, Jesus was teaching and preparing them to fulfill their purpose. Then, He began sending them out, forewarning them of the rejection and even persecution they might experience. They would come back to Him and ask questions and then be sent out to try again. And then, one day, Jesus said that He was leaving, and He sent them out with this command, “All authority has been given you. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And I will be with you always.”
Today, Jesus sits on the right hand of the Father and lives to intercede for us. Jesus prays for us. He prays for your child you are sending off. He gave us the example of the perfect way to do “send-offs“: to prepare us, to help focus us on fulfilling our purpose, and to live with the confidence that He is ever-interceeding for us. For all of us who call Him Savior and Lord, Jesus daily sends us off to be His light to this world. Every send-off is absolutely necessary and highly beneficial in preparing us for living out more of His purposes in us: to go and make disciples, walking with God and taking others with us.
SO, as you send your baby off, no matter what their age, grieve it. Let those tears fall. Tears that they will be missed. Tears that things are going to be different. That they are growing up. But be reminded and comforted with all the benefits that come with every send-off. Be reminded that each day, Jesus sends you off with the same purposes in mind for you. And just as your children will be comforted with the thought that you pray for them each day, Jesus is doing the same for them and for you.
How will you pray for the ones you are sending off?