School was easy for me. That’s not to say I was a scholarly kid I just didn’t have anything working against me other than being a leftie. When spiral notebooks are your worst enemy you don’t have much to fear.
That hasn’t been the case for my kids and between the two Chase has had it the hardest. I suppose that’s why in early spring when he sailed through the last class he had to pass to graduate I breathed a sigh of relief. This was followed by more than one spontaneous shower of tears.
It didn’t take much to set off the waterworks. Designing and ordering his announcements wiped out a box of tissues—sticking them in the mail another. When his college acceptance letter came I was a puddle.
One day my young friend Meloni, who isn’t a parent, asked me why it was so emotional for me. After pausing to think about it I said, “It’s about gratitude and words just seem to fall short of expressing the depth of it.”
“Because it was hard?”
“For Chase and you,” she said.
“For Chase and all of Team Chase,” I said.
“Well I think you were probably the biggest part of that,” she said smiling.
“That’s just it—I know it wasn’t me. This has been so much bigger.”
“You still were a huge part of it,” she insisted rolling her eyes.
Meloni’s like a daughter to me and I knew this was her way of showing me some love so I didn’t belabor the point. However, later that day when she’d left I was still uncomfortable taking the compliment.
This same type of scenario proved to be the most awkward part of all the graduation festivities. When folks who’ve been a part of Chase’s life would acknowledge my efforts and I turned it around to acknowledge theirs—you could see they felt as uneasy as me.
You would have only had to work with Chase once to know that a conventional approach was not going to get him where he needed to be. His wasn’t a 500 piece rectangular puzzle. It was a 5,000 piece 3-D puzzle with no straight edges. All you could hope to do was get a few pieces together and trust more to fall into place later.
This made taking credit for anything by anyone feel wrong. Even Chase was taken aback by his success. Before graduation when the principal called him forward to award him an academic letter he was stunned. Then when earned a letter in journalism he sheepishly asked me what we were supposed to do with both of them??
His question summed up all of graduation season—what do you do with it? Success like his begs the question how—and with no one single answer you’re left looking for at least a theme. Wasn’t that what Meloni was really asking when she wondered why I was crying. What was I so thankful for that I got teary just thinking about it?
Graduation night I still couldn’t answer the question and as silly as it sounds I also noticed that I hadn’t found a penny. I’d left the house several times during the day but and was starting to feel nervous. Surely, God wasn’t going to break my eight year streak on graduation day. A penniless day on one of the biggest days of my life—oh please no I thought.
I pushed it in the back of my head because I knew how ridiculous it was to think about it but I’ll admit that while we were taking pictures after the ceremony I was on the look-out. I even thought I might have to make up a reason to stop at the store on the way home.
Walking to the car I got a little bit ahead of everyone when I heard Chase call me. “Mom, wait I have something for you.” I assumed it was just more stuff for me to carry but then I saw him reach in his pocket. My heart leapt knowing what it had to be. With palm up he handed me a perfect penny.
“I found this for you while we were lining up.”
Our family circled around us everyone could see God’s perfect timing at work. The sun had not set on our celebration without God reminding me and Team Chase that He is always faithful. Finally I had the word to describe what I was so grateful for—faithful.
The puzzle many believed couldn’t be put together had been, because God was faithful in every way possible. Faithful to work directly in Chase’s life for breakthroughs and faithful to work indirectly through a whole team of people some of whom he’s never met. Piece by piece God was faithful and piece by piece so were all involved.
That’s bigger than me. The truth is I was just like the penny he handed me—one of many—and while shiny in my own way not more valuable than all the others. For this I’m equally thankful because my son is definitely the richer for it.