A young mom of much younger children than mine piped up. "I just have to say, I don't think I'll ever be able to let one of my kids go on a trip like that without me. I don't know how you are doing it." I smiled at her sweet sentiment, completely understanding it.
After we prayed together, completed our study, and left the room I found that young mom. "To be honest" I said, "it's easier to send a child on a mission trip to another country than it is to release him into the dating world knowing he could give his heart to someone else."
I think I might have scared her. It's true though, at least from my perspective and experience.
When our kids approached the teenager years Scott and I voiced some very strong intentions for them regarding dating. A few examples:
- We must all (Mom, Dad, child in question and siblings) be ready for dating. (Lots of factors included here.)
- Both parties must be a committed, maturing follower of Jesus Christ (to keep it simple - godly, funny, cute - in that order.)
- As the relationship progresses and future commitment is being discussed, the girlfriend or boyfriend must love Scott and me so that our child will never have to choose between spouse and parents.
It wouldn't be too much longer when I would find out. Drew called from college and asked us to pray because he found someone who captured his attention. A few weeks later, he brought Brittany home to meet us. I know now that she was nervous, but I think I may have been even more.
Am I losing my son? Where do I fit in this scenario? What if she doesn't like us?
It was a good weekend and we all liked Brittany. I hoped they would take their time getting to know each other, resisting the urge to get too serious too soon. Thankfully they did and eased us all in gently.
Still, as time went on, I was often preoccupied with thoughts about the two of them, our family and future scenarios.
I remember one day in particular I was alone at Panera, sitting outside with coffee, my Bible, and my then favorite book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I also had a journal filled with numbered lines in which I was keeping an ongoing list of people, places, things and experiences for which I was thankful. A list of ways God shows His love for me.
My mind was drifting through many thoughts and prayers, not the least of which was Drew and Brittany's growing relationship. I sensed the following conversation:
Me: "God, how do I let Drew go if this gets serious? What if she's not the right one? What about me? How do I get out of the way (especially if I don't want to)?"
God: "Does Brittany fit your requirements?"
God: "Do you have any reservations?"
Me: (thinking) "No, none. She is wonderful and seems to have what we are all looking for."
God: (probing further) "Why isn't her name on that list you have there?"
Me: (sheepishly and kind of surprised) "She isn't? I'm sure I've got her in there."
God: "No, she isn't."
I flipped back through the pages. Why wasn't her name in my book? I was a little embarassed.
God: "You have spent years raising Drew and praying for a young woman to love all the things about him that you love."
Me: "I know."
God: "What if she is my gift to you too?"
Me: "Oh. I didn't think of that." A gift for me? What could that look like?
Then the ugly cry. It was a "go away from me, I am a sinful woman*" moment..
I picked up my pen and started writing.
Everything changed from that moment on.
Please don't miss the order of those two sentences up there. After I gave thanks, everything changed. Blessing follows obedience. Not vice versa.
It never dawned on me that I would benefit with a special relationship with Brittany of my own.
Fast forward four years. Drew and Brittany are getting ready to celebrate their first wedding anniversary next month.
Tomorrow is Brittany's birthday and as a gift and tribute to her, I made a new list!
Things I Love About My Daughter-in-law:
- She loves Jesus more than anyone and wants to serve Him with her whole being.
- She loves her Bible and reads it daily.
- She loves, is respectful to and grateful for her parents and is very close to her siblings.
- She loves my son. Really loves and understands him.
- She laughs at most everything Drew says and does. She's funny and picks on him just like we all do too!
- She comforts and takes care of him.
- She is wise and is an equal partner in their marriage.
- She accepts and loves Scott, me, Ben and Ally.
- She digs coffee and chocolate.
- She is a reader!! She loves books. When you ask her what she wants for her birthday or Christmas - she says books! Her book wish list has almost all the same titles on it that mine has (bonus!).
- She graduated from college with a degree in women's ministry. (my dream!)
- She is a role model for Ben and Ally as they consider future relationships.
- She gets on board and enthusiastic about some of my crazy ideas for family activities (and "out there" rules).
- She is affectionate. Because most of their dating was long distance, her visits involved overnight stays at our house. At bedime, when I started the ritual of kissing my kids goodnight, she would pop right up and eagerly get in line for me to kiss her too.
- She dresses modestly always (which matters a lot to mothers of sons), respecting both herself and others.
- She includes me in their lives and tells me stuff.
- She asks me for advice and to pray for her.
- She is concerned for and prays for me.
- She helps me understand teenage girls. (read as much into that as you like)
- When we are skyping as a family, she sometimes texts me so we have our own private conversation going at the same time. (I totally love this because the men have no idea.) I didn't say we are sneaky or devious.
- Whenever Drew does or says something she thinks I would like to know or will make me laugh, she texts me, often with a picture, always referring to him as "our boy".
|"Here's our boy reading a book. A real book!"|
I mean, for real. (Sinful woman moment.) I'll be right back I have to go get a tissue (again).
Tomorrow is Brittany's birthday. There is no gift I could give her that would express how much she means to me. She is a perfect fit not just for Drew, but for our whole family. For me.
Moral of the story: God knows us so much better than we know ourselves and is worthy to be trusted with everything that concerns us.
And parents should feel free to be very involved in their kids' relationships. Just sayin'.
Happy Birthday Brittany. It's your birthday, but clearly we got the gift. We love you.