This past weekend, I was asked to speak as part of welcome ceremonies at our son’s college, to the incoming freshmen class and their parents, from the perspective of the parent of a college freshman. As I prepared, I tried to think from the perspective of what might be going through these parents minds – not just today, but in coming days, weeks and months ahead as their child starts his or her college journey.  I’ve summed up these thoughts and would like to share them in today’s blog post, The College Launch.

I thought it was kind of ironic that I would talk on this subject, 30 years almost to the day when I began my own college journey on the same campus — the campus of Ouachita Baptist University, as a freshman in the fall of 1981. My parents moved me in, and from that day on, my life was forever changed – for the good. On the day we left our oldest son on this same campus, 2 years ago, it was a full day, a good day, and before we knew it, we were saying good-bye.   I didn’t cry or sob, on that day or even in days to come. God had seemed to give me a confidence and a comfort that He was about to show me the start of all the good things He had stored up for my son, beyond what I had imagined or hoped.  I know people experience a vast array of emotions and feelings, and I have given some thought to some things I could share with other first-time college parents that might be helpful.  Some helpful reminders that all start with “L”:

Launch & Look Forward!
Let Go & Let Them
Lift Up & Leave

LAUNCH & LOOK FORWARD:   Dennis Rainey (Family Life Ministries) shares the following example of an arrow in an article entitled, “Releasing Your Arrows.”                                                                                                                                                                                        ” … In Psalm 127:4 children are compared to “arrows in the hand of a warrior”.  Arrows are not designed to stay in the quiver.  Arrows are created for flight.  For God’s target. For battle.  And from the time you bring them home from the hospital, those little arrows must be shaped, sharpened, and honed for God’s intended purpose.  Every archer worth his salt can tell you there is pain in launching an arrow.  As the archer lets go, his left forearm can be painfully stung with the slap of the string.  The same is true of a parent’s heart.  While the “arrow” is enjoying the flight he was made for, the heart of a parent feels the sting of the release.

Releasing is also scary.  Will they fly straight?  Will they be blown off course?  Will they fall short of God’s intended destination for their lives?  You’ll never know if you don’t release them.  But they’ll never grow up if you keep them safe in your quiver, away from the battlefield.”

As you launch your arrows, anticipate that it’s going feel different around your house — and then there are the Frets and Fears of the unknowns – what do we do with those? For some of you, maybe you worry a lot, or maybe not. Don’t feed your fears – when you’re looking for fears, all you see will be your fears. And don’t fret over the unknown. Instead, trust God and look forward to your child’s journey , as well as  your own — God has new things that we might miss if we’re too busy looking back or worrying. Once we made our decision, I felt confident that God would continue doing the work He began and entrusted to us as parents up until this point.  I began looking for the next good thing.  Don’t grieve over what is changing, but look forward to the new adventure!

LET GO & LET THEM:  You’ve been preparing for this day – the day you will let go.  Understand that we won’t be aware of our child’s coming and going, all the new friends they’re making, or if they’re doing their homework! And even though we are not with them, thanks to things like texting, FB, even Skype, we can still easily keep up with our kids. Sometimes too much so. Social media has changed the landscape of our society, as well as the way we parent.  With this constant access, it can be a detriment for them and for us in the “letting go” process.  We need to avoid trying to fix everything for them or keeping tabs on them.  Part of letting go means we have to let them fly, let them make mistakes, and let them have their own college experience.   Let go and let them.  And a note about the Facebook thing:  it’s a great tool for keeping up with the fun they’re having, but refrain from commenting on photos and their friends’ pages and photos — and don’t live vicariously through your child. Keep up but don’t be that mom!

LIFT UP & LEAVE: Lift up — your eyes and hands to God for help and guidance in the life of your student, and in your own life as you anticipate these coming days of change.  Understand that this is what you have been preparing them for all these years.  Lift up the faculty and staff of your child’s college as they seek to oversee your child’s journey over the next 4 years.   Lift up with your prayers but also with your encouragement and involvement.   And Leave – defined in Webster’s this way: “to go away”; “to let stay without interference”; “to have as a remainder”. You are leaving behind your child.   But a new door is about to open for your child, a door to new beginnings. And this door will take them to places God has dreamed just for them. This is the legacy that will ultimately remain – a new legacy they will leave on the world.

Launch and Look Forward!!  – look for that arrow to leave the string of your bow, and watch it sail strongly through the air as it hits the target set in place by its Creator:)