Letting Go: Encouragement for my College Freshman (and Me)
By Angie Torres Moure
The US Department of Education estimated that 20.5 million students attended more than 2,600 American colleges and universities in 2016. Those figures are now personal to me, as my son joins that ever-growing group and heads upstate for his freshman year in college.
I have been preparing for this moment for years. In fact, 30 years ago this month I began my own college career, also away from home. Besides the anticipation, excitement and fear for the then-unknown, I don’t remember showing much concern for what my parents were feeling about my departure. I was ready to leave the nest. I know my son is now ready to do the same. All these years later, I understand what my parents must have been feeling.
We have always talked with our son about going away to college. We talked about him growing up, learning to take care of himself and managing his own time, budget, diet and laundry. I’m sure he’s tired of hearing his dad’s and my anecdotes from college, like how we met there and fell in love. All those life lessons and memories made it easier for me–that is until this week. The reality of my emotions hit hard when we helped him move into his new life exactly 499 miles away.
The time has come to let him go.
I’m not going to sing my son’s praises. As his mother, I try to keep those to myself. I am, after all, his greatest cheerleader. I’ll just say this precious gift grew up in a loving home, with a good dose of old-school parenting, a younger brother he adores, and a dog that is a lightning bolt of energy and affection. He practiced sports, some music and knows the importance of serving others. Our son has the intellect, convictions and discipline necessary to do well in college and in life. But now it’s up to him to apply these convictions and discipline all on his own.
More surprising to us has been his unwavering faith. My husband and I grew up in the Catholic faith, but we cannot take the credit for our child’s love of Christ. I remember the first few days of kindergarten, when he came to me in tears and said: “Mom, I’m sorry, but I love Jesus more than I love you!” I was stunned then, and continue to be, when he reminds me to turn the other cheek as I am fuming with anger, gives me a look when I’m about to lose it, or reminds me that it’s time to get ready to go to church.
This week, as I got ready to give my son out to the world, I have repeated all my usual and mundane advice:
- “When in doubt, don’t.”
- “Manage your time well.”
- “Waiting to study the night before a test ain’t going to cut it in college.”
- “Make time to exercise; it’s great stress relief.”
- “Don’t skip breakfast.”
- “Remember your manners.”
Advice is easy for us parents to give but sometimes hard for our children to follow. Inevitably, my son will make some bad decisions, feel homesick, sense the power of peer pressure, and experience other struggles. We are all flawed humans after all (even my “gentle giant”). So I’m turning to God’s Word–the ultimate authority–to guide and encourage him. Following are Bible verses that I have selected for him:
- “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
- “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- “Have I not told you? Be strong and have strength of heart! Do not be afraid or lose faith. For the Lord your God is with you anywhere you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
- “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
- “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)
- “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every thing, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
- “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
As I learn to let my son go and grow, I pray the life lessons he has learned at home will guide him. Even more, I pray he will continue to seek the Lord with all his heart. For only the peace of God can guard his heart and mind. And mine.
Angie Torres Moure is a bilingual writer, editor and translator. She has worked as content editor for LOGOI Ministries for more than 12 years, where she has edited and helped produce books, articles and other resources. Angie also manages the weekly LOGOIgrama digital newsletter and production of Steve Brown’s You Think About That audio spots in Spanish, Piénsalo.