Brett and I have travelled across the country this past week not for a simple vacation but to witness a milestone moment in the life of our Sweet Florida Girl. We’ve come to see our Little One walk across the stage, receive her college diploma and symbolically step into the next stage of her 21 year old life.
Sisters, where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday she stepped up to the podium at her first “graduation” – the time passes so fast and, as cliché’ as it sounds, you barely blink and it’s gone. And I don’t think that sentiment, the idea that time with those who have captured our hearts slips away too soon, is limited to our children. I think it’s that way with all the important people in our lives. The time always seems to go to quickly . . . with your Grandma, with your Mom, with your aunts, your sisters, your nieces, your daughters . . . it never seems like we have the time to fully embrace them and in the blink of an eye . . . it’s a memory.
That’s how these last 21 years feel to me and as I let my mind drift back to the beginning of her college years I clearly remember the absolute physical pain of watching her pull the car out of the garage to begin her adventure on the opposite end of the United States. I felt so anxious about what the future held for her and to be honest, for the empty nest she was leaving behind as well.
What was waiting for her at Southeastern University? She believed God had paved the way straight through those campus gates for her. So much so that she called it her “Promised Land” – but would it be? Would the adjustment, the being away from home, be difficult for her or would she make the move easily – and, if I was honest with myself, which one was I really hoping for?
All these questions and a thousand others pounded at my heart as I watched her turn the key, smile at me with such expectation on her face and drive away. I flew to the spot Brett was having his morning coffee, crawled up beside him, and let the thousand questions roll down my cheeks.
And now here I am at another monumental moment . . . watching as she takes her place with a smile full of expectation – she isn’t sitting behind the wheel with all her belongings in the seats behind her, but she is poised for another adventure. It’s so strange to me to see her in this place, where the past and future are meeting in such a real and tangible way. So surreal to open the commencement program listing the graduates, trace down through the list and land on the name we had given our Sweet Child 21 years ago.
Such a mix of remembering, experiencing and anticipating all tangled into these few brief moments. Remembering her as a little girl. Thinking about the health diagnosis she has received this year and the challenges they will present throughout her life. Anticipating her upcoming marriage in 2015. Mulling her plan to move several states away from us . . . again. And there is that physical pain again and the thousand questions that batter at my Momma’s heart.
Does she remember home as a safe harbor? A place of love? The spot where grace lives? What is she thinking about the pain in her joints and all the medicine she has to take? How is she going to cope with the new limitations she has? Is she nervous about being a wife? Will she make friends in that new place? Will she leave us behind?
So much change in her young life and in this old one too. And all those questions welled up in my eyes and rolled down my cheeks as I spilled my heart out to Brett over coffee in our hotel the morning after graduation.
I’d love to write that he handled it so wonderfully but I know he will not mind me telling you that he sometimes forgets that I don’t really want the questions answered or the problem fixed. I just want someone to hear what’s on my heart. So he didn’t handle it badly, he just really wanted to make it better. To make certain I knew that Britt would be okay on the journey. To remind me that we have been praying for her for years with this specific time in mind. And to point out all the times God has been so obviously faithful to her over the years.
I looked over to explain to him that I didn’t want to hear logic or be reminded of all the things I know to be true and over his shoulder, right off the patio of our hotel room, I saw the most beautiful hot air balloon with the sun splashing across it. I said, “Honey, look at that! It’s so beautiful!” He turned to look from the place he was sitting and said, “Where?” He rolled forward in his wheelchair and said, “I can see it now. But there isn’t just one – the sky is full of them!” And he pushed out onto the patio. I got out of my chair and followed him and there they all were with the sun lighting them up. They were so beautiful. And calm. So peaceful.
The splendor of the single balloon had been obscured from Brett’s vision by a concrete post and the beauty filling the sky had been hidden from me by a curtain. We had to move, to get up close, get out from behind the post and pull back the curtain to see the bigger picture. And still, as we took in the details of the balloons, suspended in the sky, awash in the sun, poised for adventure, we didn’t know where the balloons had launched from – where they were going—or who they were carrying. For all the beauty in front of us, we only saw one brief moment, hanging in time, of the much larger journey.
We were witnessing, Sweet Sisters, a glimpse of Glory . . . a small slice of the wonder of Him . . . in the sky above us and the life of our Sweet Girl.
And the message struck like a lightning bolt. God is all about doing the beautiful thing – even when the post is obscuring our vision or we’re standing behind the curtain. What I can or can’t see has no bearing on what He is doing. I cannot contain Him and neither can you so we trust Him to always be about the business of filling our skies with love. And occasionally, when we heed the Spirit’s push to move closer and respond to His invitation to look up . . . we see the beauty of Him . . . and if we will raise our eyes toward heaven, even as the questions roll down our cheeks, Sister, what we behold will be absolutely glorious.