Keskiviikko 19.9.2018
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Minulle elämä on Kristus ja kuolema on voitto. Fil. 1:21

Blog: Leaving home

in English 29.7.2017 06:46 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
Today I think about all those who are standing on the doorstep about to leave their childhood home, looking forward to new challenges. Today I think especially about my oldest child, who is right now writing an entrance examination in Helsinki and will then have an interview for a post of charity work in Kenya. This is my first step toward an empty nest, and I am not ready for it yet! I am not even ready to write about it, because I do not know what will happen, and what impact this will have on me, our family, or her.
The departure of my oldest child is like an interim audit of my own life. Was that it? Where did the years go? I fast forward my life from her birth to this day. There are so many questions and so few answers. Have I been too demanding? Have I asked enough questions? Have I given her space to search? Have I done enough, too little, or too much? Have I allowed her to make mistakes? Have I guided her? Have I listened to her? Have I loved her in the truth? Have I been merciful? 

It is said that children are only a loan to us. I feel this to be very true now that my oldest is leaving the everyday life of her childhood home. One day I am happy that she is leaving, the next day I would like to live my life all over again. I would like to slow down and stop the time. But life and time continue their course. Two days ago our midmost child suggested that we should go on a trip together one more time while we still can. Will this be the end of shared everyday life with the oldest? From now on that child will come home once in a while to visit, but not necessarily to stay and live here. She will start building her own home in the place where God will show her the way.

I peek into the room that will soon be handed over to a younger sibling. It is full of stuff pulled out from the top shelves and the storage room to be discarded, recycled, or packed. Is there enough faith, confidence, and love to be packed? Will her bag contain unspoken pains that I have failed to discern or understand? Will my child have the strength to cope with them?

It is not always easy for young people to leave, although they know they will have more freedom and more air under their wings. It is not always clear where they should go. They are not always accepted into a study program, even though they do their best in the exams. It may even be hard to find work. ”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5–6.)

Despite these melancholy and ambivalent sentiments, I feel confident when I watch my child prepare to leave. I agree with the Finnish poet who said: ”You need not be anything more than you are. You only need to spread your wings to their full span." I wrote these lines on the front page of a book that I gave to my adult child a year ago. That will be enough.

I am happy that this child has the courage to leave. I am happy that she has the faith and the confidence. I know that she will not walk alone. I know she will be in God’s care. This knowledge will also carry me. 

My child is strong because of the dear escorts who have walked by her side through times of storm and sunshine. As her parent I am one of them. I thank you, dear friends, godparents, grandparents, relatives, and teachers – you have made my child stronger by encouraging, demanding, and supporting her. And most of all by loving her. All you dear ones, let us continue to love her.

I will let my child go. She will be carried by arms stronger than mine. She will not need to know all things and be certain at all times. She can freely make mistakes, fly against the wind, and search for a new direction over and over again. I hope for that rather than for a smooth life without errors.

I quietly fold my fingers. I look down and lift my gaze up again. I say another prayer of thanks. I pray for the child that was given to me as a loan, for all of you who are leaving home. Father, take these children into your strong arms and carry them. Give them friends who will speak about the light and peace of your face. Friends who will pray for them and love them in the light of grace. Give them courage to face new challenges even though the path is not always even. Dear God, bless the journey of all those who are spreading their wings to fly.

You take wing and fly. I watch and cry. My arms are empty, but my heart is full. Full of your love.
 
Text: Henna Kinnunen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen

You will find the original Finnish blog post here.

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