Monday, April 30, 2018

Different

              Guest Blogger: Holly Holiday


Holly Holladay is a wife, mother, and soon-to-be grandmother who loves Jesus. Holly enjoys writing and is an international speaker with a passion for addressing the real and raw. Her love of missions has lead her back to school to pursue a degree in nursing so she can help the least of these.

 

It’s that time of year. Pomp & Circumstance, gowns, mortarboards, tassels. The air is bursting with promise and newness--it has the feel of future. Nostalgia runs rampant with senior Sundays & slide-shows. We watch the screens as chubby-cheeked, toothless grins morph into semi-adults. It’s a time that should be happy and proud.

 

I should be proud and happy. And I am, but I am also so very conflicted.

 

But then we did things differently.  

 

I can’t tell you how or when it began. The important thing is it began.

 

Maybe years of religious cynicism -- coupled with an upfront seat to youth ministry -- planted the seed with Steve and me. It was just a seed; nothing more than a simple idea that it was OK to be different. It was the idea that the expected American path of high school, college, possibly graduate school before starting your life wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.


Our beautiful daughter should be graduating right now. 

 

Instead she has been gone from home for 6 months. She didn’t just leave, she left with purpose. When she should have been starting her junior year of high school, we allowed her to graduate. We allowed her to be different and follow the path she felt God had for her. She worked hard, saved money, raised more money and left for a 6 month commitment with YWAM shortly after her 18th birthday.


Did we do the right thing? Well, that depends on who you ask. 

 

As parents, Steve and I have been intentional about modeling faith to our children. We have been open about how we’ve made decisions. We were the weirdo’s who left stable, full-time employment to start the ministry God laid on our hearts and our children had a front-row seat to that. We had no idea how this would practically play out in their lives.  

 

It sounds all brave and gallant to live like this and teach your children to be "different". But it’s a totally different thing when you look around and realize they are different.


If I truly trust God to author the story of my children’s lives, then I have to be OK when the script looks different

 

Our daughter Savannah isn’t even here, and that absence is amplified all the more because I see her peers all shiny and smiling, basking in their hope and promise of their future. Their concerns revolve around Texas A&M, University of Texas and Abilene Christian University. And to be honest, I have been completely overwhelmed with sadness.

 

Why sadness?

 

It’s taken more than a few days to be able to even name the feeling much less trace the roots of it. Even now, I’m not sure that I fully understand it.


But when I trace it back, I think it has something to do with feeling different. 

 

I am sure that, for Savannah, we made the right decision. I cannot put into words how proud I am of her. While her friends have been finishing up high school, she has mothered children in Uganda, had 3 months of intense discipleship training, and then spent time in Spain and North Africa--being Jesus in any way that was relevant to that culture.

 

She has been afforded real-life experiences that high school would have never taught her.  

 

And I have to admit, as her mom, while I feel extremely proud of everything she’s doing, I also know the path she is choosing isn’t the easy path. It’s the more challenging one. It’s the road less traveled. It’s her path. I’m so proud of her for that.

 

Her path is not for everyone, just as high school wasn’t the path for her.  

 

But is has been a struggle!

 

All the questions I get from well-meaning adults, who are steeped in the American norm cause me, at times, to question whether Steve and I have done the right thing.  

 

"When is she going to go to school?"  

 

"What does Savannah want to do long-term?"  

 

"Did she actually graduate?"  

 

I think these questions make me uncomfortable because I don’t have an answer (except, "yes, she did graduate--did you graduate from sensitivity school? Oh, sorry).


If I, an admitted system-bucker, struggle when my daughter lives her life exactly as we have encouraged her to, then how can I expect all the rule-followers not to be confused. And I think that’s the lesson here: we have little positive verbiage when people don’t follow the expected path. As Christians we like to talk about "following God" but we don’t know how to respond when people practically do it.

 

There have been days that I have agonized over whether Steve and I have been brilliant or insane in regards to Savannah’s path. But then, one day, I ran across one of her posts on Instagram. She had posted the following picture with and added some words of her own.  

 

And in reading these, I know we have done the right thing. My sadness over pomp and circumstance (or lack thereof) is just the sadness we all feel when we realize we are different. And it only becomes happiness when we understand we were made to be different.

 

You were made to be different.

 

I was made to be different.

 

Savannah was made to be different.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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