My daughter recently invited me to her room. For those who have teenagers, you know when you receive such an invitation, you do not take the time to check your schedule, you simply show up as quickly as you can. When I enter, I am taken aback by the framed photographs, mums and awards from her high school experiences neatly stacked on her bed.
"Will you please help me put these up on my wall?" She is excited, and I cannot help but mirror her enthusiasm. "Being my senior year, I thought it would be cool to show everything in chronological order," she adds as she points to a baggy of nails.
Seeing the past several years sorted in tidy stacks seems much too concise – too neat for the teenage years often wrought with steps and slides, hard curves, high peaks and a few brick walls. And yet, here I stand sorting through proof that my child is no longer a child.
There is a shift that is difficult to explain. My daughter knew my heart long before she knew my touch. My heartbeat was her first lullaby. And as she nears the age of leaving home, she will take with her a timeless love song that weaves itself from generation to generation.
As I pick up the hammer and secure the first frame to her powder blue wall, I can almost hear the young girl in the photograph speak to me. Her voice is laced with nervousness for an upcoming exam, excitement for the possibility of getting her braces off and an animated inflection as she tells me of her dreams. As the frames form a timeline, I find myself standing before several ages of my daughter - varied hairstyles and fashions, friends and boyfriends, pastimes and passions. With the straightening of the final frame, I step back and take in the full view.
I feel like a bird sitting still on a wire as the clouds roll by. At first glance, it may appear that the bird is moving, but upon closer view, the bird remains and the clouds pass. I have had the privilege and joy of loving this child into young adulthood. It was not too long ago that I held her hand and looked both ways for us both before we crossed the street. But I know soon she will pass me by and walk out the door with boxes in hand instead of my hand. And I know some of these photographs she will take with her. Oh, what an empty wall that will be – a clear, powder blue sky framing a bird sitting still on a wire.
I find myself struggling to look ahead and forecast her path – wanting to remove obstacles and keep her safe from storms. But as I look at this beautiful young woman, I realize I can no longer clear the way. I can best serve her now by continuing to help prepare her rather than prepare the road. There is a difference. God knows the condition of all the roads she will journey and the intentions of those who will cross her path. My job is to tether her to God, encourage her in faith, and keep her close in prayer. The arms of God and prayer have no limitation of reach.
I find comfort in knowing there will be no gap – she will move straight from my hug to the embrace of God. In truth, the hand of God has always been upon her. I must trust God to continue to develop her eyes of faith so she can safely cross whatever street He maps in her heart. And I must trust God that the map will return her home from time to time.
As I put the hammer back in the cabinet, I cannot help but imagine picking it up again one day to display new portraits over old nail holes. Pictures of my adult children, their spouses, and even grandbabies. Oh, what a full wall that will one day be – a powder blue sky framing a bird sitting on a wire singing a timeless love song that weaves itself from generation to generation.
SGLY, dear readers.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.