Monday, August 25, 2014

The Flip Side

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"For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence."- (Psalm 21:6, ESV)

Two friends of ours.

Two different states.

Two different daughters.

 One common sadness.

This month many of our friends are sending their first-born children off to college or adulthood.

They are sending them off with a mixture of gladness and joy, coupled with sadness and a tinge of grief.

They share videos, they take pictures, they write notes, and they hug- and then my friends drive away with a hole in their heart because they left such a big part of their heart behind with their child.

Adulthood has arrived in a shockingly fast instant, appearing out of nowhere it seems.

The author of the Book of James says, “You are a mist that appears for a little time, then vanishes."

And so they grieve. And then they celebrate. And then they grieve again.

The homes that held so much laughter and seemed so cozy now have empty rooms hosting only memories.

When I left home for the University of Tennessee, I remember that my own mother, so overcome with emotion, let my dad drive me off to Knoxville, just the two of us.

Billy Joel once sang, “Life is but a series of hellos and goodbyes, I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again.”

It’s an annual rite of passage this time of year for so many people.

“I wish I would have had more time”
“I hope I have taught him all he needs to know.”
“I pray she is ready.”

I realized early in my own son’s life that our journey would take a very different course. When I came to terms with the fact that my son would never live independently from us, much less go to college, I was initially absolutely wrecked.

My dreams lay in shambles.

But they were simply that- my dreams.

God, in his sovereignty, had dictated another set of plans for our lives.

My son will never drive a car. He will never live independently. He will never go off to school. He will be with us long after he reaches adulthood.

Everything in life has a flip side. And with every emotion, every circumstance, and every situation, a choice has to be made.

Choose the flip side.

Every night, the last words my son will hear will be my prayers of God’s blessing over him. Every night he will hear my words of affirmation and love spoken over him. Every night the last two words he will hear from me will be, “Goodnight Superman.”

Every morning, the first words he will hear will be from his mother, who lays down her life every day in sacrifice for him. She will open the door to his room, and greet him affectionately, and with pride when he wakes up.

We will never have to worry about who is influencing him.  We will never have to worry about who he is with, and what is he doing.

I used to dread the thought that my son may have to live with me all of my life. Now, I am choosing to embrace that thought.

I choose the flip side.

I will have an opportunity to make new memories, every day. I will have an opportunity to express my love for my son, every day. Even though, he is completely non-verbal, I will get a chance to talk to him and engage with him, every day. I get to see, feel, and experience the essence of God in my house every day.

So don’t pity me world. Don’t feel sadness for me. Don’t tell me how sorry you feel that my wife and I will never be alone.

Be jealous of me. Because I am the blessed one. I am the one who received such a gift.

A gift that I get that I will get to unwrap every day.

I choose the flip side.

PRAY: "Father, our children are gifts from you. We pray Lord that they always seek your face, walk in your presence, and that you cover them with your blessings."


  1. As a father of one very smart highschooler and a 12 yr old with Fragile-X this story really hits home. Our oldest son is a sophomore in high school and it sinking in that he will be off to college in 3 short years. We are a very close family and the thought of him leaving is already Bothering me. What will we do when his sense of humor is gone? What will we do when we cant laugh and joke around everyday? As I write this there are tears building up in my eyes. On the flip side our 12 yr old son will be with us much longer than we ever thought he would. Although he is very physically active he is also very delayed in learning and has behavior disorder. I sometimes get discouraged thinking that he may be living with us forever and yet at the same time I don't think I would know what to do without him living with us. Thank you for this perspective. I will continue to enjoy unwrapping this gift that God has given us,

  2. Your words touched me Anonymous- my prayers for your family, and for you to continue unwrapping your gifts!

  3. You are blessed as you still have your child. It is unbearably harder after they pass on, even though I know my baby girl is in God's loving care. you are blessed!

  4. Jeff, you hit it on this one friend. With one of ours planning a wedding, two others off to college, another got his drivers license, my son with challenges started at his special needs school once again today. We celebrate with our kids who are able to get along in life with little effort, and we celebrate our son who is challenged to do what the others can do without much work. Through it all, my non-typical son has taught me so much about's not what we gain or how far we can go by earth's measures, it's how much we can surrender to the Lord who gives us each and every breath. Thanks for your touching words and tender heart. Colleen

  5. Well written (said)'s why I stopped at one child, actually...I realized that this has changed the shape of our lives, and I knew that I needed to just focus on her because this one wasn't going to grow wings that would fly her as far as other children might go. She's my buddy though...and I love my days with her, and our days as a family together.