You will graduate in 51 days. A little more than seven weeks until you cease to be a junior high-er and become a high school freshman. It seems like just yesterday I was strapping you into your car seat, wondering why the hospital was allowing your daddy and I to take you home when we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. All we knew is that we loved you.
And that might be how you feel about next year. You are leaving a school where you have known some of your classmates since preschool. You have shared teachers, homework notes, trips to Camp, and Altoids. You have served with these kids, went to youth group events, and maybe even had a crush or two.
And with all the things I want to tell you, I am going to highlight three things that I learned on that first ride home with you from the hospital. I pray that you might learn from these truths:
You gotta buckle up.
Daddy and I strapped you in tight when we brought you home. We twisted and latched smooth woven pieces of vinyl to make sure you did not fall. I sometimes wish I had a magical piece of material that would help you to never get hurt. But, Sweeties, I also know if you never get hurt you might never realize the redemptive love of Jesus. You might never realize that He is there, even in the pain. Sometimes you will know Him even more intimately when you do fall. These buckles are the things that will protect you. Prepare yourself with His words of Truth, the weapons of God, and the knowledge of His love. And when you come out on the other side of the trip, it is sweeter than you would have ever thought.
You are going to feel lost.
I kept looking back at the hospital, wondering why the knowledgeable nurses who changed you and swaddled you were not allowed to just all come home with us. Will you sleep? Will you cry? Will you be happy with us? Yes, yes, and yes! Beautiful answers to my questions came. But there were times when I felt hopelessly inadequate, confused, frustrated, and lost. When you walk through those doors of high school, whether they are the real doors of a school or the next season of this journey, you will wonder where to go. Not only will you wonder where the cafeteria is, but you will need to know how you navigate through first loves, broken friendships, and authority that you may not always agree with. But trust in the One who came to find you. He promises to be with you always. Cling to that truth and know that people at home are always waiting.
You will make it home.
We wondered. With every bump in the road, we wondered if your neck was strong enough to make it home. It seemed to wobble so in that large car seat. You were only about six pounds in your pale yellow coming home outfit. With every stop light, as we got farther from the hospital and closer to our house, we waited. We knew people were waiting and a stork, that proudly said your name, was stuck in the year announcing to the world that you had come home. And you will make it home. Each hour at school will bring you closer to the time when you are home – our home with chips, salsa, and guac for a snack. And each day will bring you closer to our eternal home. Where Jesus will be waiting. Look for Him. Listen for Him. He, who called you by name, will be announcing to the angels around that his child has come home! And that will be worth the whole trip!
What one sentence would you say to your daughter at the end of a season or the beginning of the next one?