I watched her exit the gym after the volleyball practice.
She was surrounded by a group of her teammates. They talked and laughed for a few minutes and as she waved goodbye and started to walk toward the car, one of the girls stopped her so she could give her a hug. The others followed suit and my girl was lost in a sea of hugs and smiles.
A final wave and then she climbed into the passenger seat of the SUV, tossing her gym bag into the back seat.
During the short drive home, she filled me in on how practice had gone. She had worked hard all summer long, endured three days of tryouts, and made the team the week before. She found the practices exhilarating and her eyes shone with accomplishment and the excitement of a new challenge.
In six days, my daughter will walk through the doors of a high school for the first time.
I know that there will be times of laughter, tears, joys, struggles, losses and triumphs for her in the days ahead.
I find myself repeatedly thanking God for the years He gave me with her when she and her brother were the only students in a very exclusive school called “Brown Academy” :).
I am also thankful for the fact that this summer, the three of us did a Bible study about our identity in Christ.
She has already told me that she has been warned about certain groups to “stay away from.” She was not warned about any person in particular, just the groups by which these kids have been labeled.
This same thing went on when I was in school and it will continue to exist until the end of time.
I have taught my kids to look beyond labels, stereotypes, and cliques and see individuals made in the very image of the God who created them. They will like some of them. They will dislike some of them.
Regardless, they are called to love them—not blindly, but with discernment and resolve— with the very love of Christ and shine His light in that school.
I will be joining them in that endeavor. I have begun to get to know my son’s friends and each precious name is now on my prayer list. I plan to do the same with my daughter’s new friends.
I feel like a huge dork around teenagers but my hope and prayer is that as they fill my home in the days and weeks to come, they will find in me someone who truly sees them and seeks to know them…just like my mom did for my friends when I was growing up.
Our hearts…and our doors…are open.