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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ground crew Dad

So some of you might have noticed that I haven't posted much on this blog about my daughter Erica leaving for six months to go to Central America. There are a couple reasons for that.

First, I've just had a lot of other stuff to post about -- pastorates, Alpha, Philippines trip, and more. It's a busy time in my head.

Second, Erica leaving has been more of a heart thing than a head thing and I haven't had a lot of words to describe the experience until recently. I wasn't quite sure what I would write about it. There were things I needed to say to Erica, and there were things our family needed to talk about, but those weren't really the kind of things that I wanted to post on this blog. In this Facebook age, I still believe in good boundaries. There is a kind of inappropriate putting-absolutely-everything-out-there that is the rule rather than the exception on too much of the internet.

The question that seems appropriate to address here, though, is the one so many people have asked me since we entered the countdown of Erica's last couple days, and especially since she left on Wednesday: "So, Dad, how are you doing?"

It's a little complicated to answer. One thing I can say for certain is that my heart is full, full to overflowing, and that often moves me to tears. These are not tears of grief, just (as Jesus said) "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" -- or the eyes water. So I tear up a lot, and then that passes and I wonder what it was all about and I realize it is just another example of having a full heart.

Many people seem worried that I will be caught up in grief. Nope. How could I grieve for this time? I love Erica dearly and will no doubt miss having her around, but that is a light and momentary kind of grief. No, we have been praying for this -- for her to be open to what God wants, to follow Jesus wherever he leads -- since before she was conceived. Part of the overflowing of my heart is seeing in so many tangible ways the answers to many, many prayers. She has heard a call from God in many and various ways these last years; this call at present has led her to this semester abroad in Guatemala and two months this summer in Honduras, serving at the Manuelito Project. How can I grieve for this?

I know the fullest life she can possibly know is the life of following Jesus, the life of Mark 10:28-31. If we are seeking God's kingdom together, our relationship is transformed from the merely human parent / child relationship with all its trials and tribulations, and we begin to know each other as members of the Lord's family, children of the same heavenly Father, part of the priesthood we share in Jesus Christ, workers together in the kingdom of God. I pity those Christian parents who cannot bear to release their children for the sake of the kingdom. They doom themselves and their children to living in less than what God desires for them, and they miss out on the joy of working together for goals far beyond human capability.

So my heart is full, in so many ways.

And just when I think maybe I'll grieve just a little bit, I saw (about a half hour ago) that Erica was on Facebook, so I chatted her, and then in the middle of it an unfamiliar number called my cell phone and voila! There she was on the other end of a clear, static-free line. Things have changed a bit since I was nineteen.

Thank God.

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