Tomorrow morning at 9AM Jeanine and I will be dropping off at college our only daughter, Rebekah. At that time, she will begin orientation week at American University in Washington, DC (which is 447 miles from our new apartment in Dorchester). This is not the first time we’ve driven a child to college and waved as we drove away; we were in a similar situation four years as we hugged our son in front of a dorm at Gordon College (a mere 33 miles from our current apartment in Dorchester). I can say in my mind that this is the same thing, but my heart tells me that this is going to be different.
As Rebekah begins her collegiate career, I feel the need, as I did for her brother before her, to pass on a few words of wisdom from my own experiences:
- First, I would want to tell her to allow this experience to enhance her beautiful qualities instead of changing them. She will meet a variety of people from a variety of backgrounds whom she will want to emulate; I’d want her to know that she is able to resist that temptation and remain true to herself. I hope she makes friends with people from other cultures, countries and capabilities and she is better for these interactions while keeping within her what makes her unique;
- Next, I would want to tell her to focus on the important and not just the interesting. I’d want her to remember why she is where she is – to gain the skills and special training she needs to improve her chances at accomplishing her goals. I’d tell her that going to class and preparing for exams are essentials disciplines that will reap rich rewards. However, there are important things beyond the classroom as well: I’d want her to look for those lifelong friendships and life-shaping experiences that can be found in unexpected places;
- Then, I would remind her that God has directed her to our nation’s capital for a purpose. I would encourage her to take advantage to all that her campus and community allows. Go to the Smithsonian and absorb great art and artifacts, read the words inscribed on the monuments and memorials, and witness the pageantry of diplomatic motorcades and an inauguration; attend worship in some of the great churches in our nation, serve the needs of the poor and underprivileged, and take a skull along the Potomac.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)
Honey, I want you to shine so brightly that in the dark moments we can still see you 447 miles away. Your mother and I are so proud of you and all that you’ve become. We cannot wait to see the great things God will continue to do through you!
For all those leaving for college for the first time this week, and for their families who love them, I pray God’s richest blessing and watch care as you pursue your dreams.
For those wanting to read my thoughts four years ago, read https://calvaryboston.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/a-parents-hope-for-freshmen/