Another Graduate in the Family
Today I was at my daughter’s high school graduation. If you recall, last year at this time I was at my one son’s graduation. His was a little different. Jake isn’t my biological son. Kenzi is my biological daughter. I was with my daughter, and she was with me, from the beginning of her life.
I’ve been reading a lot of the book of Ecclesiastes lately. This is the 3rd time I have read it this year and each time I question why it belongs in the Bible.
And then days like today happen.
Then your daughter graduates high school.
And your mom, who every time I would see her and she would talk about how excited she is to see Kenzi graduate high school, isn’t there because God called her home too soon.
And I start to see the importance of a book like Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes 3:2 – a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.
I was in the delivery room when Kenzi was born. I was there when her mom needed an emergency C-section. I was there when the doctors said “we will do everything we can” as they worked on her and her mom.
I was also there when my mom died a little over a year ago. I was there when she told me that she probably wouldn’t be able to keep her promise of seeing Kenzi graduate. I was there when the tears came down her face as that became a reality to her and I.
But I was also there as my mom would pour into my daughter. I was able to see her learn how to love through interactions with the elders in her life. I was there to help plant the seeds of love and watch them sprout into the young woman she is today.
I was there, watching her leave, as she traveled out of the country for her first time without me. I was also there, watching her go, as she learned to split time between my home and her mom’s after we divorced. And I will be there as she digs up her roots and replants herself in a college away from home.
Ecclesiastes 3:3 – a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up.
She was there as my relationship with her mom died. She was there when many of those seeds of love that were planted in her died from the blazing anger in her parent’s words toward each other.
And Kenzi and I were together as we tried to pick up the pieces from my failed marriage to her mom. I was there, working to build bridges between both my biological children and myself. We worked hard to build up that which God had started long ago and that her mom and I tried to unwittingly destroy.
And I will be there as our relationship morphs from my high school daughter and daddy to a beautiful young woman and her dad.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 – a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
Kenzi and I both have seen many tears. I still remember the first day I upset her. She didn’t get very angry, she just cried. And the first time I was hurt by a decision she made, I spent time in tears.
But then we have also had a lot of laughs. Going to the movies and making fun of the characters or the script or the overall movie (can anyone say Sharknado?) is a tradition for us. She and I both have a very similar sense of humor, so we know what makes each other laugh.
I have seen Kenzi mourn, and we have mourned together. Mum’s death hit us both very hard, for example.
But then there are those times to dance. My wife will find this funny, but I remember getting her ready for her first school dance in middle school. I was trying to teach her how to dance and she was standing on my feet as I led. It is funnier than you might think because I truly cannot dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:5 – there is a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.
I have seen Kenzi grow into an amazing young adult. There have been “stones” in her life that she needed to remove in order to grow as a person. In this case, I have seen her know who and what to have in her life so that she can order her life in the way she needs it to be.
But on the opposite side, I have seen her add edifying “stones” to her life in order to build up the plan she has put in place. She is building a strong foundation of worldly success. I look forward to seeing her grow spiritually and build upon the worldly success she will have.
As for embracing, anyone who knows me knows that I will never hold back an “I love you” or a hug of those I love. For me, the time to embrace is always. Kenzi knows that there is a time for it. I have seen her initiate a hug or an “I love you” at times. But I have also seen her withhold it when it was necessary.
Ecclesiastes 3:6 – there is a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away.
Kenzi knows how to seek out that which she wants in this life. She will go after something tenaciously and will let absolutely nothing stand in her way. As her dad, sometimes I wish she would think about the consequences more and “give up” some of her ideas, but she is still in her time of searching.
As she grows, there are a lot of people and things in her life that she will throw away, and she needs to. I hope her love of family will keep strong. Family, even families that are broken or disjointed, are integral to success as one grows. I pray she will always need her family.
Ecclesiastes 3:7 – there is a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.
Relationships, as we grow, become ever more important. It is vitally important to mend relationships of those who love you. If there is something else I can pray for my daughter about it is that I pray that God will place people in her life that will challenge her to grow. Those relationships are never easy, some are already there and some are yet to come. But humans don’t always like to be challenged and it is easy to tear those people out of our lives like they are toxic. But if we cultivate and mend those relationships we will find that we grow spiritually and emotionally. It is the toxic people we need to tear out of our lives.
The writer of Ecclesiastes goes on to tell us that there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. Kenzi has always been one to speak her mind. She typically doesn’t hold back. As she matures, she will hopefully find those times that she will learn when to be silent. I love that she speaks her mind, and that is a needed quality, but it must be tempered with timing as she matures and grows into the young adult God would have her be.
Ecclesiastes 3:8 – there is a time for love and a time for hate, a time for war and time for peace.
There is a time for love.
I have loved my daughter since the day I saw her born. The time to love someone is when they are your family. God loves His family. I love my family. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for them. And I pray that she feels the same about her family.
But there is also a time for hate. And that time is when your family gets hurt. Anything that breaks a family apart should be hated. Not the people but the systems and principalities that lead to brokenness. Fight the brokenness. Fight injustice. Hate that which destroys families and love.
That is our war. This is our time.
And in return, we a left with peace.
I pray for peace to fill my relationship with Kenzi. I desire everyone who I love to find peace with each other.
So now Kenzi is stepping out on her own. She has a full time job this summer that required her to move out of the house (even though she is only a few miles away) and she is going away to college (although she is still going to be in the same state).
It is time for her to grow. To allow God’s Word to be a lamp to her feet and a light to her path.
Psalm 119:105 – Your Word is lamp to feet and a light to my path.
The front porch light is always on for you Kenzi. Your family is here for you should you need us.
And we love you and pray for peace to fill you.
I remember your mum…fondly.