Yes, I did just that. I left my son sitting at a picnic table by himself, and then I drove away.
Ok, let’s start at the end of this story, and then go back and fill in some blanks.
This story has a happy ending, and no, I did not neglect my son.
I shared a little while back that our son was accepted at a very prestigious music camp. This past week was the beginning of his session of camp, so we drove up, stood in the registration line, found his cabin, moved his month’s worth of belongings into the cabin, got the information for the lessons he’ll be taking, and then it was time to go.
The staff were still registering people and our son didn’t know anyone else, so it was hard to really get him connected. I knew that dinner would be the time when they’d start those connections and he’d find out who was in his cabin.
This camp has a very strict “no phones, no internet” policy, so I knew I would go for a little while without knowing how he was.
I didn’t realize it would be almost a whole week….
And so I gave him one more hug, walked away, and started the long drive home.
Just like my son.
I left him sitting at picnic tables, reading a book, among a group of 75 kids where he knew no one.
This could have gone two ways.
1. Successfully – in which he would make friends, love what he was doing and my heart could feel peace.
2. Unsuccessfully – in which he would not want to stay, would have a miserable first week, and I would feel forever guilty.
(Now, I know I already told you how this turns out.)
But imagine leaving one of the people who you love most in this world.
This gave me a whole new appreciation for what the Father went through when Jesus went to the cross.
(No, I’m not comparing what I went through to what God went through when Jesus carried His cross up Golgatha, just saying that I understand the concept of “letting your child go” in a new and different way than I ever have before.)
When we had our kids we dedicated them back to God, meaning we knew that they were each a gift from Him. We promised to raise them to know the Lord, to help them grow spiritually, and to teach them to learn to follow God’s will in their lives.
So when the opportunity came for our son to attend this camp, we jumped at it. We knew God was opening a door for our son to pursue his talents. We knew this would be an amazing experience – personally and professionally.
We just didn’t expect that the beginning would be so tough.
I told you this ends well. Let me fill in those details.
My mom, my daughter and I went up to visit on Sunday and to hear my son and the other pianists perform. We arrived at lunchtime so we waited outside for the campers to finish lunch. When he came out and spotted us he came running over and gave us BIG hugs! I asked him if he was having any fun. The HUGE smile, the emphatic YES – they assured me that sending him to this camp was a good idea after all!
More than that, though, he told us about conversations he was having with others.
He’s in a cabin with 5 other guys his age. He said that morning he’d gotten up at 6am (to get a hot shower!) and spent about 90 minutes talking with the guys in his cabin. They must have talked about the fact that he was going to attend the Bible study the conductor was holding.
He said they asked him questions about how good people – those who give to the poor, volunteer, help others – could go to hell, but people who have spent their whole lives committing terrible acts of evil could enter heaven with a “deathbed conversion”.
They asked him questions about why he believes what he does.
And he said that for 90 minutes he had the opportunity to share his faith.
He is 15 years old.
The questions he dealt with can be hard for those of us who have lived our whole lives knowing Jesus.
Teens can ask some tough questions and be hard-headed and hard-hearted about the answers they receive.
And he talked. He just talked. He answered their questions and then he went to the Bible study the conductor held and got refilled.
As a parent, I was proud of his musical achievement (yes, we did hear him in concert that afternoon and he played well!), but I was so much more proud to hear the strength of his faith.
One of his goals in his music is to be able to have a platform to share his faith with others.
At 15 years old, he is successfully achieving that goal!
Sunday evening I left my son in almost the same spot.
This time he was hanging with friends, playing foosball and I knew he was having a great time.
I walked away. I turned to be sure he was okay.
He didn’t look back at me.
So I walked away from my son, for a second week, and didn’t go back.
Resources you might appreciate:
The Power of a Praying Parent