She's Ready

I sit in the dark hours before dawn on the day she leaves us.

The bags are packed and weighed and guard the front door awaiting our departure. Three cases containing her curated closet and personal items she's determined need to accompany her into the next chapter of her life. Three repositories holding all that has come before as she transitions into all she will be. 

Today, my daughter leaves for college, and I sit in the liminal space somewhere between torn apart, wondrously proud, hesitantly hopeful, and fearfully protective.

18 years ago, she burst onto our family scene with exuberance, passion, creativity, and joy. She sang before she could talk, ran before she could walk, and decorated before she could dress. Even then, daylight hours could not contain her, and she'd awaken me with a beckon from her crib -- not crying or sad or scared or in need of comfort, but calling out with a longing for connection and cuddles. "Dad! Peanut butter! Couch! Now!" Long before the rest of the family awoke, we'd find our way to the kitchen for a spoon of peanut butter and a long treasured snuggle on the living room couch.

Now, all these years later, her suitcases represent what she takes from me into her new life. Far more than the clothes or dorm-room linens or toiletries, I wonder what she's packed in those massive bastion-like suitcases. Did she pack her confidence? Did she remember her glory? Does she have enough hope? Will her supply of wisdom be enough to last through Thanksgiving break? Did she bring her faith?

Merely two and a half weeks ago, we sat together in our small two-person tent on the edge of Lost Lake in the Wyoming wilderness. Though mid-day, we huddled together and stayed warm, stealing a few moments of dry away from the rain that had seemed to follow our Restoration Project father-daughter expedition. Over the past few years as she’s grown, these moments have become more rare, and I’m grateful the weather has pushed us back to the proverbial peanut butter couch. 

“Dad,” she asked, “I have 17 days left before I leave for college. What other wisdom would you want to give me?”

“Sweetheart,” I replied, “I have given you all I have.”

“But I don’t know how to get a mortgage or file my taxes or buy a car.”

“That’s true, you don’t have that information,” I responded. “And I’ll be here to help you walk through those things. But that’s just information. What you have is wisdom, and that’s all you need.” 

You see, she’s ready. She’s ready to take those suitcases and fly away. She’s ready to face the world and become more of her own self. She’s ready to learn and grow and disrupt and be disrupted. She’s ready to explore and be heart-sick and inspired. She’s ready to engage the broken world and discover her place in it. She’s ready...or at least as ready as I can get her. And dear God, I hope I have given her enough.

Fathering is not about providing enough clothes or knick-knacks or shoes or school supplies for her to pack in those suitcases. No, fathering is about providing her soul with the resources to navigate the world with a hope-filled tenacity to become all God designed her to be. Fathering is about filling her with an awareness and appreciation of her own fierceness and her own loveliness, the two wings under which the updraft of my fathering will lift her off my couch and into the coming Kingdom. 

It’s still hours before dawn, but shortly we will rise to start our journey. I will load those suitcases into the car and then onto the plane, eventually unloading and unpacking them into her tiny dorm room half-way across the country. And as we do so, I will prayerfully unpack and leave in her room all the other treasures I’d hoped to offer. 

Then we will say goodbye.

And I must remember...that moment of goodbye has been my fathering target from the time she was born. She’s ready. Thank God, she’s ready.

____________________

Chris Bruno - CEO