It had always been difficult with a husband in the merchant marines. Mike was gone two weeks and home two weeks throughout the year. Although it was fantastic having him home for two weeks, the time away sometimes made me feel like a single parent. Crises would come up, decisions had to be made, and I was the parent who had to deal with everything. My patience was short much of the time and my strong will was only matched by my son’s.
Chris was always smart, an independent child, and full of questions. I had always heard that questions showed that a child was bright and anxious to learn. That was true, and that was good. But it was a question like, “Why do I have to do this?” or “Isn’t there a better reason than ‘just because I said so’?”’ that I didn’t like.
He was thoughtful, though, too. I remember so many times when he would do something special for me or someone else. Like when he rescued the neighbor’s cat that was high up in a tree. Or the time he rode into the driveway on his bike with a window box under his arm for my birthday. But when two people are willful, it tends to get harder and harder. The teenage years can be trying enough for both the teen and the parent, but when strong-willed personalities have to co-exist, it can be very hard.
He had no immediate plans for college when he graduated from high school. He traveled west and worked on my cousin’s sheep ranch for a year. When he came home again, I saw he had changed a lot. He was more mature and decided he’d like to take a couple of college courses. He rented a small house with another young man, worked, and went to school part-time. Also, he did well with his courses and eventually earned enough credits for an associate’s degree. During that time, we had a couple of clashes that saddened me. I’m sure it was as difficult for Chris as it was for me. I needed God to work in me as much as I thought Chris needed God to work in him.
When the house he lived in wasn’t available to live in anymore, he lived at home with us for a while. Soon afterward, he decided he wanted to see more of the country and settle in another area.
I was sad when he left, and I knew I’d miss him, but we had gone through a lot, and I felt it would be for the best. Hoping we could put the hurtful memories behind us, I prayed for him every day that God would bless him, protect him, and have a great plan for his life. And I would always pray, Dear Lord, bring us together again at just the right time—Your time.
God truly blessed us. Chris called every week or two to let us know how he was doing. I was so happy about that. Then one day, someone gave me some advice. “Let Chris see the real you. The happy you. Your interests and your thoughts.” I did. He called once and I said, “Chris—guess what?”
“What?” he asked.
“I’m taking tap dancing lessons. I love it. Want to hear me tap?”
“Yeah!” he said. I danced on our ceramic tile floor for him on the phone. I did the “time step.”
“Wow, Mom, you have great rhythm.” I could almost see the smile on his face. I also shared my “expertise” on the djembe drum, and he began to play his bass for me on the other end of the phone. We joked that we’d have a jam session when we got together sometime.
One year turned into two, and Chris decided he wanted to continue college. He was interested in law. We helped as much as possible (we had spent almost everything on our daughter’s education, not knowing that Chris would eventually want to go to college himself), but he put himself through college.
I kept telling him how much we’d like to see him and send him a ticket, but he said he needed to keep working hard to finish school. More time went by. But he’d always keep in touch.
He was interested in philosophy and loved reading biographies. He’d want to read me papers he wrote for college courses, and I loved listening to him. He was so smart—so deep. It amazed me all that God was doing in his life. I was so proud of him.
Finally, after five long years, Chris said he was coming home for a visit. I was thrilled but still a little nervous. I prayed that we’d get along great and that it would be a wonderful time for both of us. My ladies’ prayer group at church was praying, too.
I still get tears in my eyes when I think about our reunion. Tears of absolute joy. I picked him up at the airport, and my heart melted. He looked taller, thinner—and, of course, older.
“Hi, Mom,” he said, smiling, as he hugged me.
It was the greatest present God has ever given me. We had both grown, both changed. Chris was so thoughtful and kind; he even liked eating my leftovers at midnight! We laughed, talked, went to the beach and jetty with Mike, and I was truly sad when it was time for him to go.
After dropping him off at the airport and hugging him tightly, I had to sit in the car for half an hour because I couldn’t stop crying. I had always loved him, and now a mother’s prayers had been answered far more abundantly than I could have ever dreamed. It had been a long wait, but it had been worth it.
Chris was on the dean’s list every semester in his last year of college. He’s still thinking of law school but presently works in a hospital/clinic on a computer, working between patients and their doctors. He was recently made a supervisor. This doesn’t surprise me at all. Everything worked out just like it was supposed to—in God’s time.
Factors of Growth and Change
I believe that the growth and changes that developed in both of us were due to several factors. I’ve listed them below.
1. Prayer – The Bible tells us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). This couldn’t be truer. I prayed every day for my son and our relationship; I’m sure he prayed, too. God hears and answers every prayer.
2. Forgiveness – Nothing positive can ever occur until forgiveness enters in. If my son hadn’t forgiven me, and vice-versa, there couldn’t have been such a special reunion.
3. Patience – This is so important. We need time to grow and mature. God is patient with us; we need to be patient with others and ourselves. Growth is a slow process. As we surrender to God, He keeps working in us until the image He wants to see becomes clearer.
4. Trials – Even trials help facilitate the growth process. Both Chris and I went through various trials in our years apart. And both of us learned from them, growing spiritually and emotionally. They increased our faith and taught us to become more understanding and compassionate with each other and others.
5. Letting the “real you” emerge – When I learned to let go and let the “not so guarded” me come out, things were smoother. I shared things—funny things, important things, lots of things that made me “me”—and Chris did the same.
We could laugh together, share opinions, and just appreciate each other for who we are. There’s something special in all of us; we need to find it and appreciate it in others.
Remember, growth is sometimes slow, but if we let the seasons take their courses, the time of reaping will be very special. A time worth waiting for.
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