Saturday, July 31, 2010

Letting Go

The other day I did something very routine for me. I drove my daughter to her best friend's house. I drove her to the house I've driven to for years. I dropped my daughter off and hugged her friend, who we consider part of our family.

Then I did something very un-routine for me. I got into the car and wept.

My daughter's friend is leaving for college next week. This would be the last time I'd drop off my daughter at her house. The. Last. Time. The realization hit me like a slug to the belly. I would never do this again, never drive this route to have a routine "get-together" (once your kid is over 10, I believe it's illegal to call them "play dates").

I sat in the car and cried for a while. I vascillated between crying my eyes out because I'd miss G so much, and chiding myself for being ridiculous. After all, she's going to college, not prison. This is the natural progression of things, what is supposed to happen. But oh, my goodness ~ how it stings.

A and G have been friends for about 5 years now. We've come to love her like a third daughter and have had the good fortune to take her with us on many family vacations and trips. I'm grateful for that and the fact that I'm a compulsive shutterbug. I have every Pumpkin-Patch, Christmas In The Park and Beach Trip fully documented on film. I've got the Trip To Disneyland, the Dance Competitions and the Birthday Celebrations all nicely printed up and scrapbooked. (OK, they will be scrapbooked.) But still, I want more. More time, more trips, more adventures, more TIME. The girls have had sleepovers beyond number, countless get-togethers and endless phone calls. They've had hundreds of meals together and lost many hours of sleep staying up way too late talking. They've goofed off, shopped and grown up -- together. But it still doesn't feel like enough to me.

I'm grateful G has been my daughter's friend these past years; she couldn't have asked for a better confidante, buddy, companion. To the best of my knowledge, G has never let her down. Those who receive that kind of love from a friend are blessed indeed. But tonight, I feel selfish. It was easy to talk about college when it was "in the future", or "six months from now". Such an abstract concept. I blinked, the months flew by and next week the day will come when my "third daughter" will get on a plane and I will watch it fly away, out of the state and out of our daily lives. And on that day, I will have to let go. I hate this. I really do. I know this is a new chapter in G's life -- new adventures, new independence, new pursuits. But perhaps learning to let go is as admirable a thing as learning about Art History, Oceanography or Calculus. Perhaps it's more valuable. It's definitely more useful than most of the classes I took in college and have since forgotten.

So while G takes off in that airplane, my family will be taking a little mini-course down here on terra firma: "Learning to Let Go 101". We won't be getting college credit for it, nor will it appear on any transcript. But it's as precious as any degree, and it will stretch us and eventually serve us well. Because we all love "our G", we want for her what everyone wants for their loved ones: the ability to soar and reach their highest potential.

And one can soar only when one is let go.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Testimony

Below is a copy of the Testimony I gave to over 300 people in April, 2010.

I was raised in a non-spiritual home, the first daughter of a Catholic mother and a Southern Baptist father. I have no memory of God, religion or spirituality ever being discussed when I was a child. My father read to us from a children's Bible only when he became terminally ill. After he died, my mother began taking us to Catholic Mass. I was soon bored with the rituals and learned nothing about having a relationship with God. In my late teens, I stopped going to Mass altogether.
My early 20's were spent engaging in all kinds of sin. While I professed to be a "good person", I spent a lot of time trashing my body, mind and spirit. I dabbled in occult activities, and participated in all kinds of dangerous behaviors. It's only because of God's grace that I am alive to be testifying today. Because I balanced this sinful behavior with "good works" and "kind deeds", I thought I was doing OK spiritually. I'd sin, then rescue a snail from being squished, believing that I was balancing out my "cosmic karma". I began my spiritual quest by looking in all the wrong places. I started attending different churches, being most attracted to the "New Age" type of church. While I enjoyed the lack of dogma, these churches also lacked God. I've believed in God for as long as I can remember, but didn't really know Him. I erroneously learned that since "all roads lead to God", I could do whatever I wanted and still go to Heaven. I read books, attended seminars, watched videos and shopped in metaphysical stores that validated exactly what I wanted to hear. During all those years, the one church I didn't frequent was a Bible-based Christian church. I believed that Christianity was just one way of believing, no more valid or true than any other philosophy. Since they were so big on "sin" and I wasn't interested in being personally responsible for any of mine, it's not difficult to see why I didn't attend. I honestly thought that people needed the Bible's teachings only because they couldn't figure things out for themselves. Even though I had made a shambles out of my life and had little to show for it, I still believed I was perfectly all right on my own. I liked living life on my own terms, and didn't need anyone to tell me anything. Not even God.
I was a totally obstinate brat.
I entered my 30's still thinking that I didn't need anyone's guidance. I was convinced that being Christian meant you couldn't think for yourself, or were judgemental. After marrying and starting a family, I began again to search for -- something. I wasn't even sure what I felt was missing. If God was always with me, as the New Age movement taught, then what was I still hungry for? Something was missing from my life, but again I searched in the wrong direction, this time taking my child along with me. Although the chuches we began attending together were less metaphysical, they were no more godly and certainly not Bible-based. I knew in my soul there was more, but still clung to the belief that the Bible was for someone else, for those who needed someone to tell them what to do and how to live. I was an educated woman, a good person! I rescued snails, for pete's sake! I had a great husband, a lovely home, an adorable child--why did I need more?
In my 40's, I began questioning my Christian friends in earnest. They were patient with me, but I still wasn't getting it. I stopped attending the metaphysical churches and began living like a Christian on the outside. I loved God, gave to charity, listened to K-LOVE and read Christian books and blogs. But I still had a rebellious heart.
I steadfastly refused to accept the gift Jesus was offering.
In September, 2009, I attended my first service here at Christ Community Church. Here, I learned what I needed to know. Here, the blank spots were filled in. The more I questioned, the more answers I received. The puzzle pieces were finally fitting into place. At last ~ it was beginning to make sense! At last ~ I was getting the spiritual food for which I had hungered for decades. I am living proof that one can hit rock bottom, straighten out her life, and still know something is missing. I am living proof that someone who has a good marriage, two beautiful kids and everything she needs can eventually see that we all need a Savior. I am proof that a camel CAN go through the eye of a needle, because one day--one beautiful and glorious day--I finally understood. I don't know why God suddenly saw fit to remove the blinders from my eyes and the chains from my heart, but He did. All my doubts fell away one day last November. I decided to become a follower of Christ, and I wanted my "re-birth" date to be memorable. Since my physical birthday was in 2 months, I decided to dedicate my heart to Jesus then. I prayed fervently that I wouldn't get hit by a bus or struck by lightning between November and January. God spared me, and on my birthday 3 months ago, I prayed the sinner's prayer. I felt the Holy Spirit claim my heart and have not regretted my decision for a single moment.
My journey to Christ has taken many years.
I am thrilled to finally be a true child of God.