This weekend is a big one. It's the weekend we're coming home, in a way. It's a transitional weekend in which it feels like Christmas, Thanksgiving, my Birthday, and my Anniversary all wrapped up in one. Kind of like birthing a child, this weekend is a culmination of preparation, anxiousness, excitement, fear, and readiness.
I have unpacked casserole dishes that I haven't used in 12 months, and as such it feels like Christmas.
I will cross the threshold of my new house as a changed person, and for that it feels like my Birth-day again.
I have a strong marriage that has been tested and strengthened by an incredible experience, and it is like we our celebrating our Anniversary for how we've grown together through this.
For the past ten months, my family has lived with eight unique teenage boys who I constantly was reminded were all lovingly and deliberately crafted by God. Their families chose to give them a better chance by sacrificing time with them to have them live hundreds of miles away and attend a school with a better reputation in a safer environment than the one they first knew. In the process, the boys learn much more than academics, and they are given something that only a few would ever experience. The scholars experience a different community, learn about unconditional love and acceptance, forgiveness, discipline, respect, communication, and so much more. They learn to take care of the house they are provided with as their home for four years. They learn to live alongside seven other scholars - two graduating each year and two more coming in as first year high schoolers. They learn to adapt to new house parents who may or may not have children, and who may or may not be sacrificing much of their own life, and who most likely stand ready and willing to serve in any capacity to mentor, guide and help these young and maturing lives.
Grace and Freedom were discovered in my life during this experience. Yet it wasn't this experience alone that led me to it, it was so many other steps leading up to it and this just happened to be what I was walking in the day I heard the walls begin to crumble.
This has been a huge experience for my family. For my marriage. For my son. For my husband. And for me. So. Much. Bigger. Than. I. Ever. Imagined. So. Much.
And so, when my husband ultimately made the final decision that we would not be returning to live in the house again next year, (even in spite of our initial hopes to follow a class all four years before we'd even spent one whole day in the house,) my feelings were much different than they are now. The decision was made mid-way through the school year and we still had so much more to go. I was torn between such self-inflicted guilt and a certain longing for our own private and much more quieter family life.
From then until now I have been preparing for this move; this transition. And God has been preparing me even before any of this ever became a possibility for me, which is reassuring to know that He sees all things and prepares us more than we can possibly understand. My heart ached for several of the boys who we invested our lives into, and who we cared deeply for. I felt a certain responsibility for them and I clung to them. The reality is probably that much of my clinging was out of a sense of obligation and the thought that shouldn't I have bittersweet feelings about leaving? shouldn't I feel sad to go? And the lie: I shouldn't want to go. I needed to come to a place where I realized it is okay to be ready.
And so now I am. Now I am ready for what's next in my family's life, and in my own life. I. Am. So. Ready! Not because I've recently had a difficult experience with one of the boys or because of innumerable annoyances. I am ready because God has taught me something in the process of preparing me. He has taught me that He alone deserves our entire heart and when we cling too tight, even to those He's given us love for, we're putting them above Him. He wants to fill our heart. And so, when I realized that I can love and care for others, yet I can keep myself a bit detached, because my real attachment is to Christ-alone, I can exhale and receive such peace.
And so I exhale.
Now I am ready. I am ready to move out of the house where I've learned so much more than I could ever give to anyone. I am ready to see how our relationships with the boys stick, or change through the years, or dissolve altogether. I am ready to trust that God had a purpose for this experience and that nothing is wasted. I am ready to surrender that I am not their savior, but He is their Heavenly Father and Savior, and to pray that they each receive Him in their hearts, and that those who already do know Him only know Him more. I am ready for what's next. In my life. In my family's life. And in the boy's lives.
It's time. God's prepared me and He's promised that this is only the beginning. When I think of how awesome of an experience the past 10 months have been, it brings me to tears. He has so much more waiting for me in the experiences that God has designed for me that I haven't yet gotten to. Experiences in which I will know Him even more.
...And so she breathes deeply and this time she exhales peace. And it feels Heavenly.