“I wish I could stay nine-and-a-half forever.”
This was the reply from my daughter the other day when I remarked (yet again) on how tall she’s getting. My immediate thought was, ‘Nine-and-a-half? Slow down, you just turned nine!’ Then I realized she was right. Her ninth birthday was already six months ago. Where did half a year go? In another two weeks she’ll be starting fourth grade. In another nine years she’ll be starting college.
Life started flashing before my eyes. Not my life…hers. Instead of looking backwards, I got a quick and terrifying glimpse forwards. Things we haven’t even begun to think about started crowding my mind: pimples…bras…(gasp!) boys. Middle school, high school, and beyond. How are we going to get through all this together?
I swallowed the lump in my throat and said, “I wish you could stay nine-and-a-half forever, too, sweetie.” The moment passed, and I managed not to burst into tears. After all, we were with one of her friends, and I didn’t want to embarrass her too much by being *that* mom. But the thought drifted through the day with me, popping up when I least expected it.
The next day, I was on her case to clean her room. (Also, yet again.) I stood in the middle of the chaos and announced “I have a plan.” I knew she was overwhelmed by the mess that had been growing all summer, and there was no way she was going to get herself out of this one without some adult intervention.
My plan was simple – to sit down with her one pile at a time and help her work out what things she needed to let go of and what to keep. But as I announced that I had a plan, she looked at me with such a hopeless expression, that I laughed and finished with, “A plan for your good, and not for harm.”
Remember that verse in Jeremiah?
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
OK, so maybe it’s overkill for cleaning a room (although I’d argue that God’s word is always true, even down to issues as small as room-cleaning) but in that moment I heard what I needed to hear, coming out of my own mouth. And as I thought about it later that evening, I came to see some truths that comforted my heart.
- There will never be a time when she is out of His sight, even though she will be more and more away from my side.
- I may be helpless to save her from some of the hardships of growing up, but those hardships will be what refines her character and makes her into the person that God has planned for her to be.
- If she doesn’t grow up, that will be the real tragedy.
- I’m thankful that she has a hope, and a future. I have always believed that God has a good plan for my life, even through some pretty hard times, and I surely believe He has the same in store for her.
- I am not in control of her life. And that is a good thing.
That night before bed, I looked up the verse, to reassure myself, although I know it by heart. Do you know what God says in the very next verse? Here it is:
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
I felt better, knowing she is in good hands. She’ll be fine. For a while maybe she won’t be, but then she will be. And that is life for all of us. Beautiful, messy, heartbreaking, and sacred. There is no way to give her an easy ride, and that wouldn’t be the best thing for her anyway. So we’ll just buckle in, throw our hands up in the air, and prepare to be terrified and amazed together.
But with all that said, I still think I’d be OK with her staying nine-and-a-half forever.