Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Find a pool

It's a whole new season for us as parents. I'm not talking about just Beve and me, though we're certainly included in that, but for many our age. We all have kids graduating into the great unknown of their lives, kids who don't have one whit of an idea of what God has in store for them. All these young adults who have had every year planned for them for the last 22 or so, are now suddenly at the edge of this Grand Canyon-sized precipice--and it's terrifying. Maybe a little exhilarating. Maybe both at once.

Frankly, I don't know if I'm talking about them or us. Some of them have plans. Or half a plan, or a bit of a dream. They're piling things in a backpack and taking off for the wildly-colored map of the world before they settle down to this thing we call adulthood. They're going to plug their noses and dive off the high dive of adventure first, and far be it for us to stop them, though our hearts stop at the thought. Seriously stop. I know what it feels like to be one of those kids--I joined them with my bulging pack, a Eur-rail pass, a dream and a sense that God would ride those trains with me. My parents didn't know that. Six weeks later when I got around to calling, my mother answered the phone, heard my voice and wept. I didn't get it then but I sure do now--and we even have cell-phones!

Others have spent so much time and money on just the right paper for their resume, just the proper wording for those cover letters that they send to all the organizations and companies they're applying for, they're doing their English teachers proud. Dang proud, I tell you! And they're losing sleep. Wondering what else they can do, what they've missed--what they aren't that they should have been. It's a terrible thing to be 22, 23 years old, and be out of the cocoon, proving oneself. Trying so hard. Questioning every little thing about oneself as if one was back in middle school trying out for the basketball team. And what about the jobs one doesn't get, the demoralizing that is. Just like having someone say--I don't like you, you're a wrong person.

Yes, for the first time, this is real life, and there's no mattress of school in the fall to fall back on. And it's scary and properly so. I hear it in the voice of my oldest, always confident child. In the emails I get from my niece and nephew. I hear it from friends who have children facing this. And when I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about all these young people, all these thoughtful, well-educated young people, standing there, I worry too. We all try to trust, to believe that the right job, the right future, the right life is out there, waiting for us. We try to believe that everything will turn out fine, and that God won't let us down. That He is as trustworthy as we have been taught He is.

When E admitted to me yesterday how stressed she feels about this, but how much she's trying to trust, I realized that a precipice is the wrong thing to stand on the side of, so said to her, "Find a pool, E."
"What?" she asked.
"I mean it. Find a swimming pool, stand on the edge and fall in. It's like that old Nestea commercial--what a wonderful feeling to fall in, to have that water hit you, but hold you. Sure, you sink a little. But then you're safe, and you float. Safe in the water, and it's clean and pure and fresh. Fall into the water."
"Well, it's pretty cool here right now..." she said. "But I get your point. Let go."
"Yes!"
Let Go. Stop trying so hard. Do the work, of course. But stop trying to trust, and fall into the pool. Stop trying to figure it out, and trust God to do that. Your times--your very life--are in His hands. Safely in the pool. God will be there to hold you up and help you to float.
And the Beve would say, she only needs one job. They all do. My niece. My nephew's fiancee, my friend's daughter, my daughter's roommate...one job a piece. Not a pile of job offers. Just the one that God has for them. And if they decide a different future? If they run off and join the circus for a year or so? Well, maybe that's why we, their parents, need to find a pool, too. Find a pool and fall in. God will be in the water.

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