College Applications and Love Redeemed

It’s the Fall of my son’s senior year in high school.  The seeds we planted in the blind enthusiasm of grade school, protected from the ambivalence of middle school, and fertilized with a hearty mix of encouragement and extracurriculars through the high school years have culminated into a small crop of college applications, deadlines, and gut-wrenching decisions.  Our mailbox is jammed with colorful college brochures, inviting postcards, and glossy magazines that clearly explain the absurd-cost of college.  For months, we’ve binged on the propaganda.  We’ve made our list.  We’ve pared down our list.  We’ve reevaluated and we’ve changed it – sometimes all in one day.  At times, motivations and decisions seemed logical, and, just as often, the experience has felt more like a diagnosis of insanity than a direction to begin anew.

It’s been exciting, exhausting, and frustrating.  There have been hard talks and heartfelt moments of hope.  It has brought us closer in ways that feel like a cherished parting gift which right now we have the joy of opening, but will ultimately close this chapter in our lives.  Undoubtedly, the best chapter I could hope to write.  It is not lost on me that all our efforts, not just to send him off to college, but to prepare him for adulthood, inevitably mean a parting of ways.  Every act that brings him closer to his goals is taking me farther from the child I want to hold onto.  Yet I know I can’t keep him.  He needs to go and I need to let go.  It makes me think a lot about what love means.   So often, love is more of a surrender than a holding on.  Love is another’s heart that we don’t get to keep no matter how much it has imprinted our own.  It’s helping someone meet their goals knowing that getting them there will cost a piece of you.  It’s explicably worth the sacrifice, the heartache, and the cavernous emptiness that makes you wonder if your heart is imploding.  Love is the illogical dying on the cross for unworthy sinners that Jesus endured.   It’s letting go of what you want to give someone else a chance at what they want.  It’s beautiful and boundless.  Despite breaking us into a million pieces, it inevitably makes us more whole.

Much like the many college conversations we’ve had, love doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Perhaps that’s what gives me the most hope though.  That by letting go and losing who I hold so dear, I won’t really lose at all. Love will resurrect as something new, redeeming itself in ways that for now seem as unfathomable as a crucified man rising from the dead.   All of it a miracle.  Some of it, still in the making.

I’ve become so aware of how much sacrifice love willingly makes and it reminds me of Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice for us all.  Somehow being a parent, draws me closer to his suffering (because parenting involves a lot of suffering!)  Yet, oh how, love makes it all worthwhile.  Love big today — in all the small ways. What love miracle is in the making for you right now? 

Read last week’s post here.



4 thoughts on “College Applications and Love Redeemed

  • November 5, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    As always, this post is beautifully written! I of course feel your pain and excitement of having a senior who is applying to college. It is definitely bittersweet. I hope your son reads this and realizes what an amazing Mom he has!

    • November 6, 2019 at 8:59 pm

      Your sweet, Cheryl. It is exciting and sometimes I think we get caught up in the possibilities and yet, it is such a gift that they have so many opportunities. I will pray for you with this process and let’s check-in year-end and see if by chance they will be classmates again! I find as big as the world is – it’s still comfortingly small. (Also, I will let him know he has an amazing mom!)

  • November 5, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    I know exactly how you feel. You know that it is the best for your child for you to let go but it hurts to do so. And it’s hard to see them conflicted also. As long as they know that we are still here for them. They may have gone away to college but this is still their home.

    • November 6, 2019 at 8:57 pm

      So true, Alexa. And above all, through this roller coaster process, I want him to walk away and feel like we supported him (even when we can’t say yes to everything). Some of these schools he has applied to I think “no way you are going that far away buddy!” – but I keep my mouth shut and I suppose I will get through it wherever he goes – trusting that we will always be his home.

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