Through all the diapers, tooth fairy visits, packed lunches, first-days of school, braces, soccer games, homecoming dances, proms, homework assignments and everything in between, it was hard to imagine that a day would ever come when our daughter would leave the nest. Yet, for my wife and me, that day arrived this weekend when we packed her up and took her to Butler University in Indianapolis, where she begins a new chapter in her life as a college freshman.
We're super proud of her. But suffice to say, she's an only child, so most of our caring and attention these past 18 years has been focused in one direction. Now we're all trying to adjust, and the house is just too quiet. People keep telling me it will get better; I can only hope. We did our best to prepare her for what's next, but can a parent ever fully do an adequate job? You just want to wrap your arms around them and never let go.
Before we left, I slipped this prayer in an envelope and taped it to the back of a family photo, then wrapped it and left it on her dorm room pillow before we journeyed back home. Maybe sharing it here will bring some comfort to other empty nesters out there.
Eighteen years ago, through one of your many miracles, you blessed us with a beautiful baby girl. With your help and guidance, we did our best to shelter and protect her, teach her right from wrong, and give her an upbringing that would stand the test of time. We taught her to believe in herself, to never forget who she was, where she came from, and who she could become. In turn she showed us the meaning of the word family.
Now Lord, she's leaving. And we're so proud of her. But Lord, we need your help – again. Help us build a boat for her journey. Make that boat sturdy and strong, don't ever let it fail. Give it a rugged sail and rudder, so she can find her way in life. Give it a tall mast, so she can climb high to the stars and see the wonders of your world. Give it a solid anchor for those times when she needs to think, and listen for your voice in her heart.
Lord, make her a worthy captain. Keep her strong as she navigates rough waters. Keep her eyes wide open, fixed on the horizon. Let her journey be filled with purpose; give her a sense of urgency. Help her remember that the journey is often more important than the destination.
And Lord, when you're finished with that boat, help us build a lighthouse. Make it strong and tall and filled with your wonderful light. Make it so that, when the storms approach and the night sky turns black, she'll see your shining beacon. Let it guide her to safe shores.
Lord, always help her find her way home and know that we'll be there, waiting.