on love that is glad

Posted: September 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

My son Caleb is a full-time sophomore at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.  He is also just beginning the final year of his commitment to the Illinois National Guard.  So he makes the 250ish mile journey each month for his drill weekends, plus some longer periods of training in summer.

That would be a bit of a challenge under the best of conditions, but Caleb has a complication that greatly increases the difficulty.  Due to a series of unfortunate events a couple of years ago that were a combination of errors in judgment, bad luck, and terrible timing, he doesn’t drive.  Oh, he has a valid driver’s license.  He’s not as pinned down by circumstance and consequence as some are.  Rather, he has made the Very Rational Decision to accept that paying for the high-rate insurance that would be required of him is a lower priority than attending classes, participating in extra-curricular, resume-building, fun activities, and paying his own bills (cuz the boy doesn’t receive a lick of parental financial support).

Of course, he needs an ally to meet the conflicting goals of keeping his National Guard commitment while pushing forward into his out-of-state education.  That would be ME.  This is probably my favorite on the list of reasons the Lord brought me back to the Quad Cities.

So once a month he finds his way to the Quad Cities (sometimes by bus, or sometimes catches a ride partway and I meet him in the middle), and then I help facilitate getting him the other hour of the journey to Galesburg for drill.  After he has served for the weekend, he finds his way back to the Quad Cities again and I either get him to the bus station, get him to a ride in the middle, or – my favorite of the options – I drive him the whole almost-4 hours back to Ames. 

This usually involves inconvenient hours.  Late nights and very early mornings of driving.  Life has to move around it.  We are at the mercy of the military, which calls the shots and does not really bend much at all.  What time will he be done with drill on Sundays?  When his commander says so, and there is no planning for what time that will be.  Sometimes it is okay if he arrives at drill in the morning.  Sometimes they require him to sleep overnight in a hotel the night before.  The military is very like jail in the way that it teaches you, “we are not here to serve you.  Be quiet and do as you are told.” 

Last night this meant getting home late enough that we got a whopping 4 hours of sleep before it was time to get up and get back to regular life.  Saturday morning (you know, SLEEPING IN day) it meant getting up at 3 AM to get him off a bus, and then an early morning road trip. 

You know what?  It is one of my very favorite times of the month.  I look so very much forward to his passing through for drill.  It means I get time in the car with the boy – hours and hours of it.  No TV, no computers, no phones, no crowds.  Just uninterrupted talk time, and he is absolutely wonderful about sharing his world as we drive.  It means I get to make him breakfast, and I get to eat a meal out on the road with him.  It means real, in-person hugs and a live look at him to be sure that all seems well. 

I don’t resent the imposition into my schedule or the loss of sleep.  My dread of the drive home alone (but not alone anymore, thanks to G!) is far smaller than my abundant joy at his focused presence.  And I am just so darn PROUD of him, that he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the promises he has made (no matter how unglamorous, unrewarding, and downright frustrating that can be) while pressing forward to a better future – the kind that need not lead to more of the unfortunate series of events that got him into this bind of not driving for a season.  A lot of people would just say can’t in his shoes.  He hasn’t chosen can’t.  He has chosen to be willing, and really, what more can a parent want for their child?

As always, God uses parenting to teach me about His love for me.  I know FOR SURE that God is as glad at my time with Him as I am at my time with Caleb.  I know FOR SURE that His focus is on gladness at my willingness and my conversation with Him, and not on the shortcomings I have displayed back there somewhere on the path behind us, just as I am all gladness on my weekends with the boy, and don’t have time to replay or focus on the things that left him not driving for now.  I know FOR SURE that His heart dances at the way I grow and change, as mine does while I watch and listen to my son.  FOR SURE.  I am awfully grateful for the things He teaches me to see Him truly as Abba – daddy – a glad and loving parent – as I press into enjoying motherhood.

Praying that you, too, know how glad He is when you are near…

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