Please welcome my friend, fellow Redbud, and Bucket List Guru to the blog today: Lara Krupicka!
“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” ― Elizabeth Stone
When well-meaning friends asked how we could send our girls to a public school, I responded that I did so with a lot of prayer. I told them that I had faith that Jesus would be with and for my children during their school day. I had seen how God had used public school, in particular a large public university, to deepen my faith and grow me. My husband and I were secure in our decision about sending our children out of our home for school because we felt secure in our trust in God.
When our eldest reached junior high, we kept her in the public school and switched to a church closer to home where she would experience an overlap between youth group friends and school companions. We trusted that God would continue to go with her and guide her friendship choices. And He did.
By the time high school came around, we had no doubts about sending our daughter to the local high school. A longtime friend and strong believer teaches there and hosts a student-led Bible study. Our girl would finally be in classes with a Christian friend she’d known since birth. We had faith that God’s presence and protection wouldn’t fail her there.
Then last month we sent her to Spain for a three-week exchange program. We suspected from previous interactions that she could be entering a hostile situation. But we prayed and trusted. Jesus had been present for her through the years in public schools; He would go with her there.
And then her texts came across the ocean. Brief back-and-forths throughout the day: her reports of being isolated, ignored, treated rudely and our encouragements to stay positive and lean on God. Our interactions on FaceTime with a child who longed for home and lacked for friendly companions beyond the adults caring for her became a frequent nighttime occurrence. Reluctantly we would break the connection and urge her to sleep, in hopes that the next day would be different. Often, it wasn’t.
My faith wavered. Where was God and how could He allow such unrelenting disappointment and harassment? Why wasn’t He with her when we couldn’t be? Feeling helpless, I prayed, begged, beseeched. I asked friends to pray. And still the situation did not change.
All of my words over the years about trusting the Lord to be with my child whenever she was outside our home felt so flippant. I wasn’t sure how to go beyond saying I believed them to actually believing. Except that circumstance offered me no alternative. I had to trust.
At the end of the nearly three-week trip our daughter approached us in the airport with a wide smile. As we walked to our car, she chattered breathlessly, overflowing with stories of what she’d seen and learned. The desperation and frustration in those overseas texts and FaceTime calls had been erased. Her stories, especially those of her difficulties, were filled with humor. She spoke fondly of her host family and genuinely mourned leaving behind the aspects of Spanish life she’d come to love. Most astonishingly, she held no anger toward those who had treated her poorly.
My faith, tiny as it was, became sight as I interacted with my returned child that day and those that followed. My God had not only gone before and behind and with my daughter. He had not just been for her. He had been, and still was, in her.
Sending a child into the world, whether it be the house next door, the school down the street, or a city far away, is a scary task. As parents we find ourselves helpless and vulnerable, to varying degrees, at every parting. Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way. When it comes to our little ones, the Father who loves them more than we do does not offer us security. He offers us Himself.
Lara Krupicka is an internationally published parenting journalist and speaker who encourages parents to create lives full of family adventures. A family bucket list advocate, Lara is best known for her Bucket List Life Manifesto and her books Family Bucket Lists and Bucket List Living For Moms. Lara and her husband Mike are raising their three daughters in the western suburbs of Chicago.