[Here is an additional resource to challenge and encourage you all as parents during this “Not That Into You” series]…
Imagining the End: Focus your energy and effort on the issues that will make a lasting impact
Leaving Home: 5 Things I Want My Children to Take With Them
By Reggie Joiner
A few years ago my daughter Hannah, who was 20 at the time, moved out of my home. She moved into a house with a few other girls. It was one of those things I knew was coming, but I just didn’t know it was going to happen as fast as it did. She had been talking about it for a while, but one afternoon when I got home, everything was gone—well, the things she wanted to take were gone. She left the things she didn’t want.
I remember looking around and, as a dad, it was kind of a sad moment. I remember thinking this may be it. She may never be back in my house again. She may never move back. It created a little controversy in our house when it happened. One of the issues was with her eighteen-year-old sister who came to me very upset. At first, I thought she was upset because Hannah had moved. But I quickly found out that it had nothing to do with Hannah—all the curling irons in the house were gone.
I started looking around at the things Hannah had taken and the things she had left. Do you know what determined what she left and what she took? Simple. She took the things that were important to her and left the things that weren’t. Trust me, when I figured that out, I really started looking around—I wanted to make sure she took a picture of the family and me! But the bottom line was, what mattered to her was gone—with her—and what didn’t matter was left behind.
I had to keep telling myself, “Okay, she is twenty, she is on her own, she is in a house”. And as I went over it again and again in my head, late one night, I took out my notebook and I started writing. She was out of my house and doing her own thing. She was an adult and she was moving forward. So how do I pray for her how? I wrote down five things. And these are the five things I want to pray for all of my children. These are five things I want for all my children’s lives. But that night I prayed this for Hannah:
1) That she will keep moving in a direction towards God. That is the end goal. At the end of it all, I just want to make sure that whatever happens in her life, she just keeps moving in a direction towards God.
2) That she will have an ongoing relationship with God’s Truth—that the value of Scripture and the value of God’s Truth will not dim in her life. I want the message to ring so loud and clear in the hearts of my children that they never get away from the power of God’s truth in their lives.
3) That she will have the right people in her life to challenge her and inspire her. This makes me nervous. This is what keeps me up at night. Besides her mom and me, I just want to make sure there are other adults, other friends, other people who will continue to challenge her and inspire her in her walk and her faith, because I know how important that is. That is community.
4) That we will still be friends. When it is said and done, isn’t that what every parent wants? Let’s be honest. Isn’t your dream that when your children grow up and move away that you are still good friends and still in relationship with them? Absolutely. I still want to have a degree of influence in her life. I still want to be her friend. I still want her to be friends with her mom, friends with her sisters and brother. I still want all that to stay in tact. I want that to be a value in her life that she never gets away from. From her graduation from college, to her wedding day, to when she has kids—I want all of that to be intact and all of that to be right. That is family.
I wrote down one other thing that I pray for.
5) That she will never get away from her sense of mission to be the church. I want her to know that she is wired, that she is created, that God designed her to be the church. I pray that her influence in whatever circle she lives in will be the kind of influence that God has designed her to have. I don’t want her faith to be tied to a place where she goes. Rather, I want her faith to pour into every area of life and every person she encounters. I pray that her significance will come not from what she is doing but from the fact that she knows she is doing the thing God called her to do, and that sense of purpose will always be a part of her life.
Those are five things I want to be really true of her life, and true of the lives of all my children. This, for me, is the essence of what a life needs to become, it’s what I want to move my children towards. And it’s not only how I pray, but the grid through which I process my actions and words to make these things a reality in her life.
These five things may not be a tangible object that Hannah or any of my other kids can pick up and pack up, but they are the things I want them to take with them—no matter how close or far from home they live.
Reggie Joiner is the founder and CEO of The reThink Group, and the author of Think Orange.
Get connected to a wider community of parents at www.orangeparents.org.