As I sat at the college graduation of my youngest daughter. I thought, What just happened? Where did the time go? When did she get so old? When did I?
One of the speakers talked about the turning of the pages and the next chapter in life for the graduates. I reflected on the chapters in my daughter’s life, in our family, and in my role as her mom. And there were lots of chapters to reflect upon as I looked back at the transitions from one season to the next.
Life is full of change and seasons of transition. I remember when each of my children went to preschool, kindergarten, and every year of elementary, middle, and high school. I remember moving them in at college. It is so strange how you think you’ve forgotten so much but then these milestone moments burst forth in your memories. I remember how our family shifted, changed, and transitioned each time, turning the page for the next chapter. We tried to make each one a celebration even when we were struggling to describe our emotions in the moment.
Honestly, I’ve cried a lot of tears through the years as one chapter ended and another began. Of course, those tears came mostly when no one was looking. I never wanted to dampen the celebration! There have been multiple times when it felt like my heart left my body and went to school or camp or college with my kids. Whenever they left for a day, a week, or a semester, part of me went with them. But the story is not all sad and gloomy.
These are some things I clung to when my family faced a season of transition and some truths I learned along the way.
New Experiences — New experiences are mostly good. I was so excited and encouraged each time my kids were able to experience something new. Meeting new friends, new teachers, new coaches, new places, and learning new subjects all brought a freshness to life. We embraced the new experiences as a family. We talked about them and processed the ups and downs together.
Regardless of age, when people are happy, they are more productive and engaged in life. And that is what I wanted for my kids then and now. As they experienced new things, they learned and grew in their faith and in understanding who God created them to be. The second part of John 10:10 is one of my favorite verses that we have prayed for our kids since they were young, “I [Jesus] have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” Who doesn’t want their kids to have the most abundant and fruitful life?
As each daughter came to know Jesus personally as Savior and Lord, she learned to walk in step with Him. They trusted the Holy Spirit to guide them into the next chapter of life. And I trusted God to be close to us all in the new experiences and changes in life. As my last one transitions from college to career, I’m trusting the Lord to guide her into new experiences that will draw her closer to Him.
Becoming the person God created them to be — It is fun to see how my kids have grown and developed through the years. It is exciting to discover who God created them to be and how He is still working on each of us. The seasons of transition stretched us all and brought forth new qualities and characteristics within the kids. They discovered their talents, gifts, and skill set. Their personalities expanded and they began to find their place within community with others. Sometimes they are more like us, their parents, or other family members—and sometimes they are so unique. Each one is so different from the other siblings.
Most of all, I wanted each one of my girls to become the person God created her to be and to become more and more like Jesus. I continue to pray familiar verses from Colossians 1 over my girls, “… asking that you [they] may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you [they] may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, so that you [they] may have great endurance and patience …” (Col. 1:9-11). We are all still becoming who God created us to be, even moms.
Community and the expansion of God’s kingdom — Throughout life, we need community, and we need to get along with others. One of the biggest joys during seasons of transition was watching my kids find their places within community and seeing their friendships and social skills expand. I’ve always wanted my kids to be healthy emotionally, physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually. I wanted them to be solid law-abiding citizens, who could take care of themselves and contribute to society. With each season of transition, they grew a little more, became more independent, and learned to care for others in meaningful ways. They learned about friendship, family, and community and why all are important.
Along the way, they learned to be their own person without me. They developed confidence and trust in God to protect, guide, and help them. Other people helped push them to grow, to embrace the good in life, and to overcome the difficulties. They learned to thrive and to share the joys in life with others. They also learned that life is more meaningful when they focus beyond themselves. Galatians 6:9-10 is a great reminder of the importance of community and living as ambassadors for Jesus, “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.”
Change is inevitable. The seasons of transitions with your children can be challenging. As you turn the pages to the next chapter, be encouraged. You are teaching your kids at every age to draw on their strengths and to walk with God through life. Help them to understand how unique, brave, and competent they are. Every day is training to help them walk on their own through all the seasons of transition and beautiful chapters of the life God has given them. Be encouraged during the seasons of transition, focusing on the new experiences your children are having as they become who God created them to be. Help them discover the beauty of community where they can be part of expanding God’s kingdom. Look for the ways God is creating a wonderful book and life as He puts the chapters together through the seasons of transition for your kids and for you. Remember, “he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
Michelle Hicks is the managing editor for Journey devotional magazine with Lifeway Women. Michelle served as a freelance writer, campus minister, and corporate chaplain before coming to Lifeway. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michelle has a deep hunger for God’s Word and wants others to discover the abundant life they can have with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.