Friday, August 29, 2008

Bittersweet Start of School

The air at orientation buzzed with grand expectations, nervousness, and triumph; triumph over the hurdles that had been successfully jumped, allowing admittance into PIBC. For many of our students, the greatest hurdle had been achieving the minimum 450 points on the TOEFL exam (test for English fluency). And, of course, college admittance represents a major milestone, the opening of a door that will change one's life forever; ergo the grand expectations and nervousness. The awareness that we, the faculty at PIBC, will play such a huge part in this milestone, was sobering, but also inspiring. What a privilege to be a part of the lives of these students during this critical, life-altering time.

As I reflected on this, it hit me; at that
very moment, 6000 miles away, our son was attending his orientation at Westmont College. At that very moment in California, Westmont was having the student/parent welcome meal. And we were not to be there. Our son, with his eyes filled with his hopes and dreams, his grand expectations, nervousness and triumph, would not have his parents there to share in it with him. This was a sad reality. I could vividly imagine our son's expression as he saw his dorm room for the first time, as he entered the dining hall, and as he would sit enraptured listening to the welcome address. My heart ached to squeeze his hand, and when his nervousness would flare, I would encourage him with my eyes, "Yes! You CAN do this, Teyler." I would want to meet his roommate and to feel assured he was rooming with someone of good character. I would want to see where he would lay his head each night. My heart would sing as I would observe the joy and triumph in his countenance at having, by the grace of God, vaulted the hurdles of a learning disability and astronomical college expenses with little financial aid. These were all things I would forgo because of God's call to invest in the lives of students in Micronesia.

Ironically, I would give anything to be at Westmont with our son; and yet, I would give anything to be here, where God has called me. How strange to have two opposite desires both equally potent. It's like my heart is divided exactly in half. And the result is the feeling, or perhaps the reality, of a broken heart. And this makes sense to me. Sometimes there is a dichotomy between God's will and our human ways. We live in the world of flesh and family, and yet we have chosen to follow a God whose ways are higher than our ways; whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And so, I take the two pieces of my heart, and lay them on the altar of our God, and I offer up the sacrifice of praise. Yes, I said praise. You see, despite the pain of a broken heart, there is no joy, and no peace, like that found where God leads. And so I say with the hymn writer, Edwin Hatch (1835-1889):
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Upon seeing his dorm room, Teyler gives us the hang loose sign (on left); but upon purchasing all the books he would need for his classes, his expression changes to one of a deer caught in the headlights!


donandila said...

Karyn and Eric, my heart ached with you as you wrote of your sacrifice to leave Teyler behind and give up all those things that parents so much want to be a part of. I pray for Teyler and also you as you feel that hole in your heart for him.

SLS said...

Hey Mommy -
I know your Mommy heart must be broken in 2 not being able to be with Teyler during this huge transition. The smile in the pictures confirm that you two have done a great job preparing him to leave the nest. I'll continue to pray for you.

PS - do you think he will still be smiling when he is done reading all those books? You couldn't pay me to go back and have that workload ;)