Even if I didn’t have a calendar or couldn’t see school busses out of my window I’d know that school is starting because of Facebook. I get to see lots of kids I know with backpacks on, smiling as they are off to their first day of this new school year. With social media, we now have pictures of teens out of high school who are moving into their college dorm rooms, some of them for the first time. I’m old enough that all my kids are out of the house so I’m really used to this whole empty nest thing.
But some people aren’t. In my Facebook feed this year there are several mothers – interestingly, almost exclusively mothers – expressing the sadness of having a child start college by moving out of the home. One mother wrote about crying for five hours on the way home. Another about the empty feeling at home. They have mixed feelings about this big change in their family life. Parents are both excited and grieving.
But ties like this also remind me that we’re not in this alone. These transition times often remind me to think about all the people in church who have influenced our kids’ lives who weren’t the child’s parents – the Sunday School teachers, Children’s Worship leaders, Gem and Cadet leaders, youth leaders, and pastors. That didn’t change when the kids went off to college.
God has used their influence to weave particular threads into what has become the tapestry of their faith. The faith and commitment to their church community on the part of all of these people is one of the ways God’s brings our children into a knowledge of him. We consider the ministry of these people part of the gift that God gives us along with our children. The members of our church promised, on behalf of the larger church, to walk along with us when they were baptized. And they have. So, while I remember walking by the empty bedroom when our kids first moved out, I also remember why I’m so grateful for the way God and God’s people helped them as they got ready to go.