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Mike headed off to college: from Monster’s University

I was standing at the Welcome Counter right outside the double doors to our church’s sanctuary. It was my day to greet folks and “be the face” of St. John Lutheran for visitors. It was the end of service; I was repeating my “Bye, have a great week!” when she came straight for me, the familiar grin on her face, her pretty blonde hair sweeping back from her face. She gave me a hug and as she was hugging me she said into my ear:

“Oh my gosh, how did you live through this?!” Then her voice dropped and through her strained smile she whispered, “I keep thinking, Oh shit, I can’t do this!”

I gave her an extra squeeze. We laughed together at her last comment.


My mom-acquaintance from church isn’t the first friend to have reached out to me over the past week. Another mom friend texted me the day before she took her son to school.

“We take him to school tomorrow. I’m such a hot mess,” she wrote.

Another mom-friend I saw over the weekend and purposefully said not-a-word about getting her girl off to college. I knew—from a mutual friend—she’s been avoiding all situations where she might have to talk about sending their daughter off to college. “She can’t even think about it without breaking down,” said our mutual friend, “let alone talk about it out loud.”

And then there’s post after post on social media.

’Tis the season of parents having their hearts ripped from their chests as they launch their babies out into the world.


Last year was my first go at launching a kid. I won’t sugar-coat it. It was awful.

No matter which direction I faced, there was a wave of grief, ready to engulf me.

And yet, this is what we are all working toward. From the moment our babies are put in our arms, we instinctively set out to “raise them up in the way they should go.” Our entire life’s purpose becomes to keep alive and nurture and protect and give every possible opportunity to these little humans, so they grow up big and strong and sure of who they are.

Even more ironic, we PAY for this gut-wrenching moment of launching them!! We start college savings plans when they’re born (well, some parents do—my husband and I were poor; we did not). We sock money away every month in fancy 529-plans for the very purpose of sending them out into the world where they will have to make their own choices and navigate their own way in this very scary, dangerous and fallen world. We fill out the Financial Aid package, for pete-sake.

What kind of lunacy is this?

But we know the truth. Like God in the Garden, so we understand. If we want them to become the most true versions of themselves, we must let them be free.

You would never clip a healthy bird’s wings.

Of course not.

But, I know. It doesn’t make their leaving tear at you any less.

If I’m being honest, I’ll admit the thing I dreaded most about sending Wyatt to college had nothing to do with him. It had everything to do with me. I knew once he left, everything would change. From that day on, my son would live more days away from me than he would with me. The entire dynamic of our family would shift.

Our family would ever be the same again.

Just the thought of it had me splintering apart. Like the ground in an earthquake, my life—our family—felt like it was being fissured and strewn out and cracked wide open.

His new beginning was The End to me.

But here is where I was wrong. Or maybe not wrong, so much—after all, it did mark an ending of an era in our family. Rather, I was wrongly focused.

Out of an earthquake, new layers are created.

When one season ends, a new one always begins.

Even after the whole Adam-and-Eve fiasco in that very first Garden, a new way into abundant life was called forth.

I recently finished reading a powerful novel, Laurus, by Eugene Vodolazkin. Near the end of the novel, Laurus (also called Arseny) is standing in front of the object at the end of his pilgrimage (I won’t tell you what, or where, he is). He begins to pray:

“And so, O Savior, give me at least some sign that I may know my path…so I may, with that knowledge, walk the most difficult road…

At this, Arseny is chided by an elder standing beside him. The elder wonders aloud what sign and what knowledge the man could possibly want.

“So you say faith is not enough for you and you want knowledge, too. But knowledge does not involve spiritual effort; knowledge is obvious. Faith assumes effort. Knowledge is repose and faith is motion.”

“But where the venerable not aspiring for the harmony of repose?” asked Arseny.

“They took the route of faith,” answered the elder. “And their faith was so strong it turned into knowledge.”

We must—all of us—keep journeying if we are to live under the banner and blessings of that which truly gives life. To stay in place, to continue living only what we know, is repose. It is death.

Only by moving forward and journeying by faith into this new season of life, will we actually walk in the Fullness of that given life.


Before my friend from church walked away, she asked,

“Any advice? Please??”

I don’t know. But here is what I said to her:

  • Make it a fun day. Smile lots. Be excited for them.
  • Don’t drag out the goodbyes. Make it more like a, “See ya soon!” (“Like ripping off a band-aid?” my friend joked. Yes! Exactly like that.)
  • Remember they’re never too far away.
  • And hey, it’s only one foot in front of the other. You got this. 🙂 


“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”          —Ephesians 3:14-19

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

—Isaiah 43:19

Copyright 2018 by Shari Dragovich