As I sat on the tailgate of my daughters truck with her last night, a lot of emotions surfaced. How did this amazing young lady sitting beside me , a senior in high school, get this old, how did I get this old? How did she go from being Super Why, a werewolf, a zombie cowboy and all the others to studying psychology while we are handing out candy ?
How did we go from dressing up and walking the neighborhood trick or treating to sitting on the back of a tailgate handing out candy to other kids that their parents think they have all the time in the world?
You blink and it’s gone. You go from first steps and first words and first trick or treats to probably her last Halloween at home. And soon it’ll be her last Thanksgiving and last Christmas and her last year of school that I get to see her everyday.
First day of kindergarten to first day of Senior Year, first race to last cross country race, first concerts to hopefully not last concerts but I am sure friends will replace me, first game at Wrigley Field to, well we do have one more summer before college and hopefully some summers in between college years, first College Game Day at Ohio Stadium to, well there is a big game coming up in a few weeks so maybe College Game Day will be there and we will have one more.
Her first college acceptance official letter came today. The email came a few days ago. Another email came today accepting her to another school. And I’m sure in the next few days or weeks, or blinks of an eye, she will get accepted to the other three or four she’s applied to. It’s nice to have choices.
But we almost know for sure where she will go. Far enough away to not see her often but close enough where she can still come back home on a weekend, if she wants too.
But more than likely she won’t be coming home to the same house she left, the house she grew up in.
A lot of changes are coming our way. Some good, some not so good. Some happy, some sad.
But like a book, life has its beginnings and its different chapters that somehow all come together to make a wonderful story. And as all stories end, new beginnings begin.
But for now there’s still a few more chapters to read in this book. Then it’ll go up on the shelf of memories and another book will be opened up.
I really have enjoyed being the dad in this book. I am thankful.
“Come on in friend. I was just reminiscing on my younger days. Looking at all these old pictures brings back memories.”
“Take a look at this one. I was just a baby. My first shell.”
“I still relied on my parents a lot. They taught me what was going to happen as I got older. They taught me how to be polite and how to treat my friends, as well as strangers. One of my favorite things my parents taught me was to be kind to everyone. Treat others as you would want them to treat you. You never know when you are going to need someone to help you and they won’t if you are mean all the time.”
“Oops. You weren’t supposed to see that one. My mom took it in between shells. She embarrassed me so many times by showing that one to my friends. Moooommmmm!!!!!!”
“Here is me as a teenager. That shell was a little too small for me. I thought I knew it all then. I forgot how my parents told me how important it was to get the right shell. Too small and I will have to move again soon. Too big and I would have to carry that weight around until I could fill it.”
“That didn’t keep me from getting this shell as a young adult. Look how big it is.”
” I got it shortly after I left the care of my parents. I was going to take on the world. I didn’t need anything or anyone except me. I was growing so fast I was constantly changing shells. I was invincible. I ran over anyone who stood in my way.”
“Then I needed someone. Everyone just walked around me. That’s when I remembered what my parents had taught me. I was being terribly mean to everyone around me. It’s no excuse but it wasn’t easy for me to change shells. Every time I got comfortable and things were going my way I would grow a little more and have to leave my comfortable home. ”
“All I wanted was to have things stay the same. I liked many a shell and had to leave them. Some of my friends didn’t grow like I did and were able to settle into their shells for far longer times. Some even stayed in the same shell their entire lives. They were too scared to leave and to grow into a new shell. Can you believe that? ”
“I, however, changed each time I changed my shell. Not all of those changes were good but, looking back, I can see how they all helped me become who I am today. I have become wiser , kinder, and more giving. You see , as I moved out of a shell that left a shell for someone else to move into. A younger version of me if you think about it. I could mentor them and teach them what I have been taught.”
“Life isn’t always sunshine on a beach. Sometimes you get these big waves, and sometimes the small ones too, that knock you on your back. You have to fight to get back on your feet. Fight for what you believe in. Become a stronger, better crab.”
“Have you ever had someone be there for you every time you needed them? I didn’t think I did either but I did. And I do.”
“You see, one day I was just getting into a new shell when some humans were walking by. I heard them talking about God. How he made the sunrises and the sunsets I see every day. They were telling their children about how much he loved them. How he is always with them. When they are tired he can carry them. When they struggle he can help them overcome. They told them about his grace and how he forgives them for their mistakes. They even told them about who they are in him. That no matter what happens in this world, they are his children and they are loved and cherished by him. He even gave his one and only son to them and let him die on a cross to show how much he loved them. ”
“I wish I would’ve heard about God a lot sooner in my life. Maybe I wouldn’t have made a lot of the mistakes I did. I would’ve known that I didn’t have to live with those mistakes. I could live guilt and shame free and be forgiven.”
“I will also tell you God has a plan for me, and for you. Even in times of struggle, stay true to Him and His promises. Some of the hardest times in my life turned out to be blessings. I learned so much about who I am when I had to leave one shell for another. The moments when I was vulnerable and felt unprotected. The times when the shell didn’t fit just right but I had to hold on and wait for a better day. Those are the the times I remember the most.”
“Now that I have told you about what I know about God will you go tell your friends. Let’s learn more about Him together. Let’s go treat others like we want to be treated. It’ll be hard and some will reject what we have to say but we have to stay steadfast. Stay true my friend, stay true.”