Thursday, August 16, 2007

When School Starts, So Do the Tears

Today is the first day of school in our community and throughout much of Kansas. This article was originally published in the Little River Monitor-Journal on August 23, 2001.

This past Monday morning, August 20, was a big day for picture taking and tears. All over town, Moms were weeping and Dads were snapping photos. What was all the common about? It was the first day of school!

Many kids were probably wondering why Mom and Dad were acting so weird, while humoring requests to stand still for one more snapshot. But if the truth were known, the kids were nervous too. Usually when emotions run high, kids cry and parents stay calm. But on the first day of school, the roles reverse!

So on Monday, I conducted an informal survey with parents. "Did you cry today when you sent your kid(s) to school?" Several said, "Yes." They cry every year on the first day of school. One parent, who cried last year, said she didn't do so this year. But then she added, "But I did cry last night." A veteran parent said her crying stopped around 8th grade, but welled up again at high school graduation. Not everyone cries. I saw one couple enjoying a special day in Hutchinson. They said, "We're not crying. We're celebrating!"

The beginning of school certainly is an exciting time. Little minds get their imaginations stirred. Bigger kids ponder future careers. Football and volleyball athletes dream of making big plays. The beginning of school makes us realize that in the midst of routine, everyday living, our kids really are changing. In fact, they're moving toward a place in life where we adults stand today.

Scripture tells us that growing is something that even Jesus did-- "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52). Did you notice the four growth areas of the greatest person who ever lived? Jesus grew intellectually ("in wisdom"), physically ("in stature"), spiritually ("in favor with God"), and socially/emotionally ("in favor with men"). Reaching our potential demands that we emphasize not just one, but all four developmental areas.

Think of your maturity in each of these areas-- how are you doing? How are you kids doing? As author and teacher Howard Hendricks writes, significant life change requires that some of our values and habits be retained, refined, rejuvenated, or just plain rejected. Certainly in the spiritual realm, the churches of Little River-Windom-Andover are eager to help you know God and his Son, Jesus Christ.

During the summer, everyone scatters out in their own direction-- vacations, camps, and reunions. But in the fall, we resume familiar pathways-- milo harvest, football games, church attendance, and school. In the midst of it all, our life is slowly turning. When you notice the change-- celebrate the moment. Shed a tear, take a picture, and seize the chance to grow.

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