Three of our now-grown children were home for the Thanksgiving holiday. This morning, they have all returned to their respective homes to resume their separate lives. That is, of course, how it should be. That is what we raised them to do. However, as each one departed, a piece of my heart walked out the door, and I was overcome by a wave of longing that only that particular child can fill. Over the weekend, the house had been filled with their presence. We did not plan any special entertainment. We did what we do every Thanksgiving: invite a variety of guests for Thursday’s holiday dinner and spend the rest of the weekend decorating the house for Christmas. However, the atmosphere of our home was enriched immeasurably by the unique contribution each family member makes to the lovely palette of our household. It happens every time. The only thing that prevented the weekend from being completely perfect was the absence of the three older children (not to mention the grandchildren!).
As I contemplated this feeling of simultaneous fullness and emptiness that always accompanies the comings and goings of our children, I remembered the years we lived in Norway when they were small. We would fly home to the Midwest to descend on our families for an annual visit of a few weeks (it probably seemed like a few months to my mother, who did all the laundry and cooking for us during those visits!). There were always tears on both sides as we all waved good-bye to one another when we boarded the plane back to Norway. At that time, although I always felt extremely sad at the moment of departure, I only understood those moments from the perspective of a grown daughter with a life and family of her own. After all, I had my own life in another country.
As a parent of grown children who have ventured out to map their own lives, I am delighted that they have their own passions and dreams. I would not want it to be otherwise. However, nothing replaces their presence in our home. Each one’s unique personality touches me at a profound level that is simply inexplicable. Each one brings me joy — not for what that child does or does not do, but just for who that child IS. Each one’s presence adds a dimension to our family that no one else could contribute.
THAT is, no doubt, how our Daddy God feels about each one of us. He doesn’t care what I do for Him. He has positioned me in this world to lead a life He Himself calls me to lead. However, He longs for, delights in, and revels in the gift of my presence. He can’t ever get enough of me! His heart aches when I neglect to acknowledge Him or forget to discuss something with Him. He bursts with pride when I walk out the door and move in confidence in areas He raised me to conquer. His love is unchanging, and I am ALWAYS welcome on His knee.
Somehow, I think I just got a glimpse of holiness over the Thanksgiving holy day. God gave me a little insight into His very own heart as a Father. How grateful I am that He gave me the gift of motherhood on this earth; He has helped me understand His love for us.
“What’s the point?,” you might ask. Just as I missed the children who couldn’t come home, our Father longs for those who have yet to come home to Him. Whom could we invite to His table next? Ask Him! (See Luke 15.)