Grant graduated from Bethel University on Saturday. And as any mom of a graduate will tell you, this is a bittersweet day. The culmination of 17 or so years of hard work. The reward of the same in tuition payments. Our celebration of completion is sincere in all ways. He made it – and so did we. Hurray!
And yet. It went so fast. This phrase is passed from the lips of one mom to the next. Bittersweet, to be sure – which is what I expected. The normal emotion of being a mom and seeing an era come to an end. I’d been weepy already for a couple of weeks, anticipating. And the truth is, by the time the big day finally arrived I was ready. Mostly.
But then something happened I wasn’t expecting, and it had less to do with my son’s story, and more to do with my own. And the surprise of it lingers with me still.
This was supposed to be my graduation, too.
I had forgotten, almost. How I had started my own Bethel journey just after Grant started his. How my graduation from the seminary, and Grant’s from the college would have culminated together. Two graduations in one weekend. Mother and son. I remember thinking how sweet it would be.
It hit me just before he walked the stage. This flood of emotion, not just for my firstborn, moving on. But for my own story, incomplete.
And what do I do with that?
A year and a half ago I made a choice. Something that had been my dream for years was put on hold for a different dream. And I’d be lying to say I’ve made peace with it completely. It’s hard, and it stings. I feel the loss.
But – God, I trust you. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I trust you. I do. I trust you with dreams incomplete, and I trust you with dreams unexpected. I trust you with stories, still being written. You see what I don’t, and your plans are better. By far.
I can admit this, at least. That first dream was all about me. Something I hoped to achieve for myself. Something I wanted to do for me. And this second dream is God’s alone. Bringing hope to somebody else. Living for something beyond myself.
The first dream I could accomplish in my own strength. And I was. It was part of the joy – my own success. The second dream fleshes out all my weakness and leaves me dependent on Him. And there’s joy in that, too.
Another thing I’ll confess. I’m learning more by far in my current classroom. Like it or not. He’s teaching me things I’d have never known.
There are pictures on Facebook of my seminary classmates, grinning in cap and gown. It could have been me. But it’s not. For now. Maybe someday. Maybe not. God knows, and I trust him.