She was nervous. It was first-day-back jitters–the kind where you wonder if your friend circle has shifted over the summer without your knowledge. When you’re not entirely sure how things are going to be when you walk through the school doors. I remember that feeling so well. Eighth grade is not a place I would ever want to be again. I hugged her tight in our cozy kitchen.
When I was younger I used to wonder what I would say to my children as we parted ways for the day. Back then, when they were all in our little nest, underfoot all day long, my buddies, it was hard to imagine what it would be like to send them out into the world. And then the world changed. How could I have possibly dreamed up THIS world, this place where my 13 year old, even with no access to social media or the internet, deals daily with kids her own age who are questioning their sexuality, who are suicidal or self-harming, who are already beginning to struggle with addictions, who have no frame of reference for who Jesus is or how things could be different? This, in small town America. The world has certainly shifted right underneath our feet.
All of those little phrases I used to imagine saying to my kids as they skipped off to school just don’t seem sufficient in the spiritual and moral turmoil of our day. In the lostness. In the wandering. So, this morning when my first-born stepped out of the car for her last first day of junior high school, I looked into her beautiful, clear blue eyes and said with a little smile, “Just honor God.”
It’s the most we can ask of each other.
It’s what we must ask of our believing children. And it’s what they should be able to see in us. These are days for courageous obedience. For fierce faithfulness. For total surrender.
“Just honor God,” I told her, and she nodded, turned, and disappeared into the crowded hallways of her mission field.