I didn't cry when he was packing. I didn't cry when we were loading the truck. I didn't cry when we unloading the truck. I didn't cry when, with permission from his bride-to-be, I was arranging things in their new kitchen. I didn't cry as we drove away, nor when I came home and walked into his empty room .
What is wrong with me? I wondered a few times. I thought I'd be a blubbering mass of protoplasm on this day. I wasn't.
I call it grace, and I will call it grace when I do cry, if that happens, which is perfectly normal behavior for a mother when one of her babes leaves the nest to build his or her own elsewhere.
Not gonna lie, my oldest and I? We've had our share of arguments, disagreements, fights, and whatever other synonyms for altercations you can think of. The boy--the young man--is so much like me. Stubborn at times. Strong-willed. Tough to reason with when he gets his mind made up. I would be lying if I said I never wanted to kick him out of the house. I'd be lying if I said he wanted to live here indefinitely. Hard.ly.the.case.
But his stubborness, strong will, and toughness are also traits of determination and focus on a goal. That's the upside when channeled properly.
He is more mature than I when it comes to quick repentance, however. It takes me much longer to admit my faults and failures. He will duke it out and then calm down, apologize, and get on with the business of living peaceably. Me? I let things fester and ferment. I am seldom inclined to be the first to apologize. I'm so glad God gave me Ben as a role model for repentance. I have told the story about how he was in breech position when it was time for him to be born. Fifteen minutes, the doctor had said. If he doesn't turn in fifteen minutes on his own, I will have to turn him or take him C-section.
My husband and I told the OB doctor that we were Christian and wanted to pray that Jesus would turn our baby. Could we have fifteen minutes alone? Yes, she agreed, but sounded doubtful. Babies don't usually do a 180 on their own when they're full-term. She left the room. We prayed a simple prayer. "Father, please cause this baby to turn even though it seems like there's not a cubic inch left in there for that to happen." I had faith and was determined to deliver him naturally, with no drugs, regardless the pain to me. About ten minutes later, I felt a "flip" in my womb and there was no mistake. This baby had turned from "feet first" to "head first," which astounded the Muslim doctor. We gave all the credit to Jesus. In that delivery room, God demonstrated His power to turn lives around in an instant when we call on His Name in faith.
That son who left my womb nearly 24 years ago has now left my home. Our home. He has grown up wise and wonderful, if I do say so myself. I don't think he could be better prepared to live on his own. I have no doubts that he is ready. He is a man, strong and skilled, healthy in mind and body, with a work ethic akin to his dad's and a social ethic akin to his mom's. He'll be fine.
This moment came without a breakdown for me. Although, I will say something took my breath away for an instant. When I got home and needed something out of the garage, I saw a lot of empty space where his couch, love seat, chair, dining table, and end tables had been stored.
But I didn't cry. I felt a small pain in my heart, but what overtook that pain was a peace that this transition had come seamlessly.
And maybe I know why.
This past summer Ben and I had come to a place of forgiveness and healing and understanding that had never been there before. It took a breakdown on my part, a humbling that was more like an emotional crash. God has given Ben (and Steve also) a combination of spiritual fortitude and compassion for people bound up. I had been bound up in bitterness and couldn't unbind myself. They were there. Ben fought many a spiritual battle on my behalf, many times being up half the night rebuking Satan and his minions, calling on God to help us in our time of great distress and pain. Steve and Sarah did as well, but Ben is definitely a warrior and a counselor. We have hugged and said "I love you" more times in the past seven months than in the past two decades.
I got a hint of the warrior he'd become when he was a little boy. He turned everything into a gun when I was going through my anti-guns-in-this-house phase as a new mom. We didn't buy toy guns nor let family members give him guns. We took away any guns he "inherited" from friends. But he would use his thumb and forefinger because Mom couldn't take those away! I just didn't understand boys back then. I had grown up with all sisters and we just weren't the gun-slinging types. Our thumbs and fingers were for braiding hair and holding baby bottles. I'm grateful that God has given boys that innate desire to protect and defend; I have always felt safe because of it.
Ben has always had a way of drawing out the real reasons we do what we do. At times I hated it; I preferred the neatness of status quo as opposed to the messiness required in repentance and restoration. I thought he was just stirring trouble for the fun of it. No, he wasn't. He was wanting authentic relationships. . I think he and I finally one of those.
This past weekend of literally moving was nothing short of a merciful moving of God's Spirit in our lives. I can let go of my son with peace and confidence in the grace of God.