Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Road to Independence

I knew there would be days like this.

From the moment the doctor placed my newborn son in my arms and I held him close in the dimly lit delivery  room, I knew my job. It was to get him out of my arms, on his feet, into the world as an independent man. The road to independence has had many steps. both big and small. The first solid food, the first step, giving up diapers (yay!), the first day of kindergarten. We have progressed on to bigger and more important steps - the first day of high school, the first driving lesson.

Today was a big one: the first trip away without family. Without me. Now 15, my son embarked on a pilgrimage this morning with our church's youth group, called Journey to Adulthood. It is something his group has worked and prepared for for two years. This morning the seven teenagers and three adult leaders left for Portland, Oregon, where they will spend the week hiking, sightseeing, working, having fun together. It is neither vacation nor missionary trip, but rather an opportunity to experience God and their faith in a different way.

A million instructions came to my mind last night as he completed his packing. Don't forget your retainer. Don't forget to wear your retainer. Don't forget your phone. Don't forget your phone charger. Don't forget to charge your phone. Do you have your wallet, ID, money? It goes on. For this week, he is (mostly) on his own to get through life. He might make a few mistakes, but his leaders are there. They are loving and responsible, and I trust them completely.

But this morning I had to loosen my grip a little more on that tiny newborn baby who looked up at me with those big, brown, trusting eyes. I did not embarrass him by crying at the airport. I saved that for later.

I know there will be more days like this.