A Safe Place for Coming & Going
My kids had been talking about it for months. They’d been planning how to spend their free time and their spending money for weeks. They’d been dreaming of what it would be like to have freedom away from mom and dad and if they would hang out together a little, a lot or not at all.
Then it happened. This past summer my older two spent a week overnight at Forest Springs for youth camp. Yes, Sam and I are on staff, and yes we live about 10 minutes away, but this was the first time they'd been away, overnight from home for this many days. This was a big deal. They would leave the comfort and safety of our home, and find a temporary community elsewhere.
I knew they'd have a blast. I had no problem dropping them off. I knew I had seen enough maturity in them to know they could self-regulate to a degree on their own, they could follow instructions and avoid death for the most part. I had confidence in the counselors, in the staff, and in the amazing things they would experience and learn about our Savior while at camp.
I had braced myself, however, to pick them up at the end of the week. I knew that while they were well taken care of, I’d be gaining back two exhausted, hyper, full-of-stories, and perhaps crabby kiddos. I wanted to hear about their adventures! But I also knew my tendency to be easily irritated and impatient. I wanted to be as patient and loving as possible with the transition home and into normalcy....something I needed grace for.
What I didn't expect is how ready they truly would be to come home. Of course they told me of camp stories, games played, songs learned, encouraging counselors, Bible teaching lessons, funny cabin moments, and tough moments too. But while they had an amazing time at camp, it was clear they were longing for home - For their own beds, their own rooms, their own space. For that same box of mac-n-cheese mom makes at least once a week. For time to snuggle and just be held, and for a day to just be together with no major expectations. I could feel an inaudible but definite sigh of relief as they melded back into their familiar spots on the couches to stare at the same TV screen while I let them veg today and unwind from the week. I could tell by the deep nap my little lady took that she had gone hard that week. She had held all of her heart needs together in some big-kid ways, but now she was home, and she could really crash.
I was overcome that day with how much joy I was experiencing in being able to serve them, welcome them back into the familiarity of home and to simply affirm that this is a forever safe place for them.
This is what we can ask God to help us give our children: a safe place to both go out from and come home to. Regardless of their choices now and into the future (which we cannot control), let’s pray for the grace and ability to create a place that is safe, familiar, and steady for these souls that have been entrusted to us. Let’s ask God to make us approachable even with the really hard things to share. Let’s listen to the drama even when it's super ridiculous, because it matters to them. Let’s give our kids a foundation at home that gives them courage to go on all kinds of adventures in this big wide world of ours, and to take in whatever amazing experiences God has laid out for them. And then pray for their hearts to gladly come home knowing that they always belong here, and have a familiar, steady, safe place in our home, in our family, with us.