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Saturday, August 23, 2014

tomorrow, ready or not

They’re asking the question again: “Are you ready?” Sweet smiles of encouragement span their faces, the question mark floating in the air. I am warmed by their kind inquiry. I weigh my answer.

I remember the first time I heard that question posed in that way, with just that inflection. Nine months pregnant, March of 1996. By co-workers, by friends, by my mother. I measured my response then as well. Clothes selected and laundered, new linens, new towels, a lamp, a few books. Months of preparation, reading about potentialities, researching, dreaming. A first child. A first arrival. Nothing left but the waiting, and the waiting would not be long.

“Yes, I’m ready!”

Wrong! Comically wrong. Hilariously wrong.  As if any degree of preparation could ready you for being a new mother. As if the shopping and the reading and the dreaming, even the praying could transition you seamlessly to what comes next. And if it could, wouldn’t the wondrous gravity of the event somehow be diminished?

I was not ready, but the Lord was gracious. Gracious beyond description.

They’re asking the question again, but this time I know the right answer. The clothes are readied. New linens, new towels, a lamp, a few books. Years of preparation. Years of prayer. A first child. A first departure. Nothing left but the waiting, and the waiting will not be long. Tomorrow we will leave him in a dorm room and drive away.

No, I’m not ready. Not even remotely. I’ve had months to ready my heart, but I’m no more ready now than I was in September. Comically unready. Hilariously unready. I am no more ready for his departure tomorrow than I was for his arrival eighteen years ago. But this time, at least, I know it. I understand better than I did back then that days like tomorrow are not about being ready. They are about taking the next step and trusting the Father. To be ready would most certainly diminish the wondrous gravity of the event.

 And just as he was eighteen years ago, he is ready whether I am or not. Thanks be to God.

Many blessings on your head, my first-born. We await with expectation the Lord’s graciousness on your life outside the walls of our home. We declare to Him our deepest gratitude for the years you have spent within them.


  1. I left my firstborn, a daughter, at her dorm this past Wednesday. Trusting the Father one day at a time and expectantly watching to see where He will lead her. And yes, very grateful to be part of the process.

  2. Hi Jen,
    I hope your day today went well. I understand your trepidation. I just dropped off my third born at college on Wednesday. If you want to cry some more, check out my post about it at http://clotheslineconvos.blogspot.com/2014/08/a-short-course-in-letting-go.html . I work with Mandy Stenberg at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa and am looking forward to meeting you when you do a retreat this Spring in Des Moines. Please know that I am praying for you. Love your blog and your wisdom.

  3. Jen, I left my only child at college last week, and can so relate to this! Had she been born just a few hours later, she would have had to wait another year for kindergarten -- which would mean I would have another year with her home! But I remember being grateful for God's timing then because she was ready. And she is ready now. Me…not so much! :) It's truly amazing how much "space" one person can take up in a home, isn't it? Thank you for sharing and reminding me that moms do this every year -- and I can, too!
    Wendy S.

  4. You'd think it would get easier the fourth time around. NOT! Our youngest son just got an apartment and a job and is beginning classes at a little community college 8 hours away. Two of his older brothers are in the same city, so that helps. But, he's my baby.......trusting God every step of the way! Thank you so much for your creative post on this bittersweet reality. And thanks for writing Women of the Word. Dropped it in my Amazon shopping cart today and can't wait until it arrives. Ingrid