Yesterday, we took our oldest daughter Karlee to the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. It was a sweet-bitter-sweet day. Yes, I realize I have that last sentence out of sorts but that is the order it hit me. You see, I did pretty well with my oldest going off to college. We have been slowly letting her out of the nest for years. She has been to camps, leadership conferences, school trips, and even a mission trip to France. I’m so proud of my daughter and the woman she has become and continues to grow into.
So, I had somehow managed to focus on all the “sweet” things about her going to college. And then…we walked out of her dorm and drove the car out of the city. It was somewhere along I-24 that this huge lump swelled up in my throat.
Suddenly, 18 years of our life together as a family, of my time with my first born from the moment I stood in the delivery room and watched her enter this world to the time she walked the stage and received her High school diploma – all of this flashed across my mind. And I wept. The taste of bitterness washed through my mouth and I could barely swallow it. My little girl, my baby, my first-born was now out on her own. I wept more. This stinks. Then this thought actually came to my mind, “if I would have known how hard this was then I would have never had children!” The pain was that deep. (I know, crazy thought, hang with me.)
Somewhere along our journey along I-24 I glanced out on the horizon and noticed the beautiful rolling hills of Tennessee. And it was at this point that I felt God’s peace come over me. It was if the Holy Spirit was whispering in my ear, “Joe, you see these mountains, I made them, I created all of this and I’m quite capable of watching over your little girl.”
I was then back to “sweetness.” And, I realized how crazy and self-centered my earlier thought of not having children was. Yes, having children can be painful in many ways. But the blessings of being a dad far out way them all. I’m blessed! I have to stop now – that lump in my throat is back.
“For we live by faith, not by sight.” I Corinthians 5:7