This week marks a major milestone in the life of our family as Wilson heads off to college on Friday. I’m definitely bracing myself for the inevitable “pit in my stomach” feeling that I know I’ll experience when we say goodbye and leave him behind at APU but, right now, I’m mostly feeling very excited for Wilson knowing he is so ready for this. He is going to LOVE college…fresh challenges, new friends, new opportunities…new EVERYTHING!
I’m trying hard to find an appropriate balance in this first-time-ever-mom-moment for me. Yesterday was Wilson’s last day at the car wash and I wondered out loud whether or not he wanted to commemorate it by taking brownies in to his co-workers to which Wilson responded “It’s just like any other day, Mom.”. I got weepy at church this morning during worship practice listening to him sing and play knowing it was his last day behind the drum kit to which he said “It’s just like any other day, Mom.”. Ha Ha! I may be hearing his refrain multiple times this week as we pack up his belongings and make room for Rudy in his soon-to-be shared bedroom and I get that Wilson doesn’t want me to make a fuss…he’s navigating the process his own way but the reality is that these days leading up to Wilson’s departure aren’t “just like any other day”. It’s a big deal. It’s the very thing Rolf and I have been preparing him for for eighteen years. He’s getting ready to fly and what’s more terrifying, I’m getting ready to watch him lift off!
Up until now, Wilson’s steps toward independence have felt a lot like when my kids jumped into the pool by themselves for the first time…toes over the pool’s edge, knees knocking, eyes on me waiting in the water with my outstretched hands ready to grab and hold tight if needed. This step feels more like the first dive when I stood behind them on the pool deck, helping them position just right (chin to chest, arms at your ears!), giving them the final encouragement (“You got this! Here ‘ya go!) and then watching them dive and…swim away.
I really don’t mean to be overly dramatic about the whole thing…billions of kids have left home for the first time before Wilson and billions of kids will follow (including three more Geylings) but I can’t help but rest for a minute on the fact that this is it…we have been helping Wilson position himself for a successful launch his whole life and now it’s time for our final encouragement…
I’ve been thinking for several weeks about what my “final encouragement” to Wilson (and Max and Olivia and Rudy when the time comes) would be and, honestly, when I pare it down to the heart of what Rolf and I tried to cultivate in our kids, it fits on three quarters of one page. My encouragement would read something like this:
LOVE GOD with everything that makes you uniquely you. Love Him with your big heart, your passions, your gifts & talents and your intelligence. Demonstrate your love for Him in your joy for life and in your knowledge of and love for His word…BELIEVE, whether you “feel” it or not, that you are loved by God and worthy (worthy not because of what you do but because of what Christ did on the cross) of His love.
BE KIND to people. Be discerning…Identify and seek to understand the weaknesses in the people that surround you but ALWAYS encourage, support and celebrate their strengths. Prioritize people and be known for your gentleness.
BE KIND to yourself. Be self aware…Identify and seek to understand your weaknesses but know and use your strengths with confidence, humility and grace. Enjoy yourself. Laugh often. Make room for things that refresh your spirit and bring a smile to your face AND CHOOSE to do the less desirable things in life with a happy heart.
BE RESPONSIBLE for yourself, the things you say and the things you do. Own your mistakes and grow from them. (PERIOD! No elaboration needed.)
EMBRACE LIFE…ALL of it! Live life fully in all circumstances…sometimes in BIG, OUT LOUD ways but mostly in simple, quiet ways. Embrace each season whether happy or heartbreaking with faith and, most importantly, never forget that God is near.
As you prepare to take this next big step toward independence, it boils down to this: the choices your dad and I made in raising you won’t guarantee you success or wealth or even an easy life but we can guarantee you a life rich in relationship and purpose if your choices from here on out reflect the values we tried hard to live out as a young family…sometimes our efforts were clumsy and sometimes our efforts were spot on but our goal was always that you would know God and that you would know through word and through action how very much you are loved…okay, so here ‘ya go, you’re ready, you got this! Oh yeah, and one more thing, we’re so very proud of you!