12 years ago, we sent a sweet, red-headed, little girl on a big, yellow bus for the very first time. Our daughter, Hannah, was excited for her new adventures and, somehow, I made it through without tears. Inside, though, I knew we were saying goodbye to a stage in her life we would never see again.
Since then, we have said goodbye to baby teeth, training wheels, many sizes in clothing, friends, braces, our home state… the list goes on and on. Today, we will once again begin saying a final goodbye. Today, Hannah has begun her last year of high school.
However, with that list of farewells, comes something even grander.
Many more “Welcomes”.
Welcome to college classes (while still in high school). Welcome to sizes that don’t change as much, welcome to new friends, a mission trip to Guatemala and a BIG welcome to approaching adulthood.
I am not sure how excited I am to say goodbye to all that our sweet, red-headed, little girl has experienced so far, but I am excited for her to welcome in the many new experiences that God has planned for her.
There is a prayer that someone shared with me those twelve years ago, and so, in celebration of this last “first” day of school, I want to share it with you. No matter how old our children are, I think our prayer will always sound something like this:
God Take My Daughter by the Hand
My daughter starts school tomorrow. It’s all going to be strange and new for a while and I wish You would sort of treat her gently. You see, up to now, she’s been queen of the roost.
She’s been boss of the backyard. I have always been around to repair her wounds and I’ve always been handy to soothe her feelings.
But now, things are going to be different.
This morning, she’s going to walk down the front steps, wave her hand and start on her great adventure that will probably include wars, tragedy and sorrow.
To live her life in the world she has to live in, will require faith and love and courage.
So, God, I wish You would sort of take her gently by her young hand and teach her the things she will have to know. Teach her…but gently if You can.
She will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, that all men are not true.
Teach her that for every scoundrel, there is a hero, that for every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader. Teach her that for every enemy there is a friend. Let her learn quickly that bullies are the easiest to lick. Teach her to sell her brawn and beauty to the highest bidders, but never to put a price tag on her heart and soul.
Teach her to close her ears on a howling mob and fight if she thinks she is right.
Teach her gently, God, but don’t cradle her because only the best of fire makes fine steel.
This is a big order, God, but see what You can do. She’s such a nice little gal, my daughter.