Shifting Orbits

We sat in the car outside of the freshman dorm that was about to become my daughter’s new, temporary home.

“Don’t get out,” she said. “Just stay here; I’m not ready.” Neither was I; so I stayed, more aware of why than she was, knowing that when we stepped out of the door it would close behind us and there would be no going back.

As three-quarters of my children now enter adulthood I find myself newly aware of the changing orbits. One of the most enthralling aspects of being a mom was the privilege of being at the center of their orbits ensuring their life, love and safety the best I could.

Snuggles in the morning, outings during the day, noisy meals, fun at bath time and the tranquility of story time. Everything happened in our home under my guidance (and my feet).

Just as we notice the movement of day into night, but not so much the larger, longer movements of the earth in its elliptical path around the sun, I counted the days with my children, acutely aware of their velocity.

But at the same time, almost imperceptibly, the path of their orbits were shifting away from mine into new, uncharted frontiers. And one day I awoke to the realization that I now orbit them, making myself available when their paths cross mine, hoping to soak up as much of their light and love as possible before they spin out of sight once again.

Our daughter made an ironic comment the other day about this transition, observing that as a young person she has all of life’s firsts ahead of her, while ours our mostly past. She’s right. And yet, as long as we have breath, God has a purpose for our lives and work for us to do.

As these cycles of nature continue their dance over the coming years, and the centricity of motherhood dissipates, I already am feeling the tug of a new orbit.

There are two billion people in the world who have never heard the name of Jesus. I am beginning now to pray that God will show us the work he has in store for us to be part of inviting them into his eternal, life-saving orbit.

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