Don’t remember eight weeks ago? What if I asked you to remember everything that has happened since June 14. Could you remember eight weeks ago then?
June 14 was the day Abby left for camp.
Today she returns.
In eight weeks I took a road trip to Dallas, Texas; we’ve remodeled a bathroom; I’ve travelled with my family to the U.K.; and we’ve sent a child off to college.
A lot has happened in eight weeks!
And I know better than just about any mom on the planet just how long eight weeks is because my heart has hurt just a little for every minute of the eight weeks that Abby has been gone.
Every time I’ve thought of her, my heart gave a tug. Every time I prayed for her, my throat tightened up a little bit. Every moment that she’s been away has been hard on me.
So why did we do it? Why did we allow our 16-year-old daughter to live six hours away from us for eight long weeks this summer?
It would be easy to just have told her no. To rationalize that she is too young to be away for that long. Or to say that I needed her here (my heart certainly did!). Or to demand that she get a job rather than pay all that money to scrub toilets all summer.
I’ve had several friends ask me that question, and I’ve asked myself the same thing so many times over the summer. Why let her go when the alternative would have been so much easier?
Now, really, you should all know how I feel about letting go by now. As hard as it is, it is a necessary part of every child’s growing up and every parent’s growing away. It just has to be.
But today, as her bus is about to return her to me, I keep asking myself, why did we do it? Why did we let her go?
There are several reasons.
First, she is a child who needed to be let go right now. She needed this summer of independence and, especially, of being at a place she dearly loves. Her heart needed to be there as much as my heart needed her to be here with me.
Second, this wasn’t just a summer camp of fun and games for eight weeks. She signed up for the Service Team, which means that she was working every day, five days a week, for about eight hours a day (sometimes more). As parents, we place a high priority on service, and we want to teach our children to live as servants, so what better place to learn to do that? Developing a work ethic along the way probably isn’t a bad thing either.
And finally, it came down to spiritual preparation. The camp Abby attended was a Christian camp where we knew she would be nurtured in her walk with Jesus. We knew that she would have plenty of opportunity to fellowship with other believers, but also to spend precious time alone with the Lord. All of this, we felt, was so important for her spiritual development.
Today I turned to Philippians chapter 1 where Paul expresses his deep love for the Philippian people. He talks about how he prays for them with joy because of their partnership in his work.
And then Paul speaks of his confidence that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” A few verses later Paul tells them that he prays that their love would grow as they gain knowledge and insight and that they would “be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.”
This is what we want for our daughters: Growth. Good work. Love. Knowledge. Insight. Discernment.
And we felt that for this summer, Abby could best gain those things while serving and learning and growing closer to Jesus at camp. Away from us and all the baggage we bring into her life. In a place she loves.
Could she grow here at home? Absolutely. Does this mean every one of our kids has to spend eight weeks at camp? No way. Not every one of our girls is cut out for that kind of work. Not every one of them would even want to put herself into that kind of position. But we have to take each girl into consideration—her personality, her unique needs—and we felt that for Abby, being who she is right now, this was what was best for her.
And we intentionally chose to let her spend the summer away from us, serving at camp.
Intentionality. It stinks sometimes. It means that we have to give up time with a girl we love deeply in order to help her grow. But we trust in the One who gave her to us to complete the good work that He has already begun in her.
And we’re really looking forward to having her back with us again tonight!