What a year this has been; an engagement, a wedding, and now expecting our first grandchild! That is a lot of change in one year, and a lot for which to be extremely grateful! Many people have kindly expressed their concern for my well being - in how I am handling all the changes coming my way. I want to share of the Lord’s goodness and peace, and the overwhelming sense of joy I feel as I consider His great working in our family, and personally, in my heart.
Prepared with the Truth One of the ways the Lord has encouraged my heart is by preparing me ahead of time for this particular season of life by transforming my thinking through truths from His Word. I know that the Lord has blessed me greatly through Mark and the privilege of sitting under his teaching over the years; hearing him speak about the Gospel and how it relates to family. My personal study of the Scripture has deepened my relationship with the Lord and further prepared my heart, and girded my mind for what was to come. Change is not always easy, but the Truth of God’s Word has transformed my thinking and set me securely in this pleasant place.
Our Children belong to the Lord! I can remember thinking ahead to this season many years ago when my son was still in my womb, and then when I rocked him to sleep when he was ill with fever, as we worked side by side in the kitchen, and really - throughout his life. He didn’t “belong” to me, but was graciously given to Mark and me, entrusted to our care for a short time. In fact, I regularly, prayerfully reminded myself that this young boy belonged to the Lord. He was created for God’s glory - not for me, not to make me look good, not to complete our family, nor to serve us. Instead, we were called to act as faithful stewards of the gift of this young life, recognizing that a steward is someone who is entrusted with his Master’s resources to carry out his Master’s plan. I prayed for years for this day when we would send him out to leave and cleave with his bride and begin his own family. I knew that my purpose as his mom was to point him to his Savior for all of his life, to pray for him and with him, to raise him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, to the best of my ability, (as far as it depended on me - but knowing that it was all the Lord’s doing), to present him mature in Christ, as a man of God, a servant of His savior, a leader in his church, a faithful worker, and steward of the gifts given him for God’s glory.
Aspire to Marriage We talked to him from toddlerhood about being a one woman man. We trained him to protect and treat other young ladies with respect and honor and with absolute purity. We spoke well of marriage and the privilege of leading a family, and encouraged him to aspire to one day be a husband and a father. We believed and taught and thought a lot about the fact that marriage is a good and a holy thing, a gift from the Lord, an intentional picture of the Gospel. So, when he took out the trash as a young boy, we reminded him that some day his wife would be so grateful that he had learned to see things that needed to be done around the house and then took the initiative to take care of those things. His early training, his education, his pursuit of a calling and career, his personal character preparations and experiences all had the end game in mind - to grow up in godliness, prepared to serve the Lord and bring Him glory with the woman the Lord was preparing, perfectly suited for him. They would serve their Savior together.
Welcome change with rejoicing! Last year when the Lord brought this young lady into his life, we were not surprised, nor caught off guard, nor unprepared. His relationship that led to his marriage was greatly anticipated, hoped for, and prayed for. Seeing the Lord bring them together was the answer to our prayers, and the beginning of the end of our stewardship responsibility for his life. We rejoiced greatly in what God was doing. We eagerly welcomed this lovely young lady into our hearts and embraced with excitement all the changes the Lord was bringing our way. These were exciting times! Like a knight in shining armor, our son had admirably arrived at the castle to retrieve his princess in waiting. Sound the trumpets and let the celebration begin!
Change precedes growth and is a gift from the Lord! Yes. There were changes and some of them were abrupt. When that incredibly gorgeous engagement ring slid on her finger, there was an immediate shifting of his priorities, his time, and his attentions - and we knew we did not want to hold him back for one second. We wanted to encourage what God was doing in our midst, and to embrace this change as a gift from the Lord. We recognized there is a God given shifting of allegiance and consideration from our family to her; from me, as his mother, to her, as his bride to be. It was as it should be. He was busily preparing their home, getting things set up for their life together, and planning their first steps beyond marriage. He had to begin to leave and cleave well before they walked down that aisle together as man and wife. When I was tempted to feel sorry for myself, or to “mourn” the changes, I fought those feelings with the truth. This is what we prayed for. He is exactly where he is supposed to be, and he is doing exactly what he was called by God to do. This is of the Lord, great things He has done! As my joy for what God was doing increased exponentially, my role as his mother, by God’s design, changed. In a real sense, I had to decrease in importance in order for her, as his new bride, to increase.
Rejoicing promotes Family Unity We talked about this “change” as a family, and we gathered together to pray as a family with gratefulness to the Lord. We strove to be of one mind, unified in our joy for this new relationship. Whenever one of us was reminded that our son was not among us; the wrong number of plates removed from the cupboard, noticing the empty place at our table, we chose joy. We verbally encouraged one another with a smile and the truth, “He is exactly where he should be.” “He is in the center of God’s will, would we wish him elsewhere?” “We are so blessed to be witnesses and a part of what God is doing in his life.” Our momentary sighs at the realization of some sense of “loss” were quickly transformed into squeals of joy at the thought of the goodness of our Lord to our son and brother. We refused to allow any selfish thinking or sadness on our part to remove one single drop out of his overflowing cup of joy!
Celebrate the Send Off We decided to celebrate this change as a family. We had been bombarded with questions from friends, “Is it hard that your son is leaving?”, “Does it bother you that he is moving away?” As we processed those questions, we were reminded of another truth that we had always preached to ourselves. We have been teaching for years that you give your daughters away, but you send your sons out. He wasn’t just leaving or moving away, or getting married - we were sending him out! “As arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the sons of thy youth.” We have always thought of our sons as arrows, and we purposed to launch them, to send them out at the right time, with direction and purpose. We decided to celebrate this milestone in his life by having a “Sending Out” party. We surprised our son by gathering a group of men who have been of encouragement to him over the years. They met for a barbecue lunch, to pray for him, and be an encouragement to him as we sent him out to prepare for his wife. There was laughter, sharing of memories, and gracious gifts of tools to equip him for his preparations. But it was the significance of the community of men joining together with our family to launch our son, this arrow of the Lord, that became a life-changing marker in his life and in ours. It was a celebration that brought a sense of closure to our family, an end to our season of preparing the arrow, sharpening the arrow, aiming the arrow - now he was to be launched.
In order to cleave well, they must leave well. One or two women have whispered that tell-tale poem in my ear to prepare me for what they consider to be an inevitable disappointment and sadness headed my way. “A son is a son until he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for all of her life.” I wonder, is that a Scripturally based sentiment or one that reflects what many have regretfully experienced? Do sons leave and daughters stay? The Bible speaks of leaving father and mother, cleaving to one another, and becoming one flesh. While a daughter remains a daughter and a son remains a son, there are familial relationships that must change by design. He doesn’t leave us and become part of her family, and she doesn’t leave her parents and become part of our family. They both leave and unite to start their own family. It is a new and good thing. As they look to Him, they will make decisions based on how they sense Him leading the two of them. While both of their upbringings will have some influence, hopefully good, their ears now are tuned to hear their Savior and their desire is to seek to please Him, not us.
A new family is established! I have a very close relationship with my son, and I love him dearly, but I think two important concepts are in play that allow me to rejoice in this process of growth and change; my realizations and my expectations. First of all, it is very important for me to realize and embrace the truth that my son as I once knew him, no longer exists. He has miraculously been made one with another, and a new and glorious entity exists. “The two shall become one flesh.” He has now been made one with her by God Himself, unified in a mysterious and holy way; emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I embrace their one-ness by addressing them as one, not just him, in my conversations. “How are you all doing?” I encourage their one-ness by deferring to her and encouraging him to do the same, “What does she think about that?”... “What would she like?” And I celebrate their one-ness by treating and considering them as the separate new family that they are. I realize that I am to relate to them as husband-wife, not as my son and his wife. While the difference may seem subtle, it is huge. I rejoice realizing what God has done, He has made the two one.
Expectations vs. Not My Will-ness The other concept in play here are my expectations. I try to have none, or to keep them under submission to the Lord - because I really don’t know what to expect. I want for God to have the freedom to work in them and through them, as well as in me and through me. I don’t expect calls, or visits, or certain kinds of considerations. I don’t long for or expect things to be as they were in the past. I don’t expect them to like, or agree with, or make the same decisions that I would make. Because expectations often lead to demands, and I want more than anything else to be gracious and not demanding of their time and attention as they start their new family, I choose to keep my thoughts and desires at bay, and my prayers for them are constant.
Rejoicing in hope! Here is what I do expect, “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” He is not finished with any of us yet. I remember, with humility, where we were when Mark and I started our marriage together. Let’s just say that the Lord has done tremendous things in my life and heart and has grown us in ways I could never have even imagined to ask for. This is what I expect as they start their new family - for the Lord to faithfully continue in them together what He started in them separately and that in the years to come He will grow them into a family fit for the Lord. And in that hope, I can rejoice all the more! I can hardly wait to see what God has yet to do!
Thank you to all my friends who have expressed concern for my well being. God is good. His faithfulness to me and to our family is overwhelming. As we wait with joy for the arrival of our first grandchild, and watch with hope at what God is doing, it is truly well with our souls! Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say it, rejoice!