Walking through the Season of Lasts
“I just played my last high school soccer game” our son, Jonathan, said amidst tears and hugs from teammates, classmates, parents, and coaches. Tis the season of lasts for our youngest son as he finishes his last year of high school. Being a 4 sport athlete and highly involved in the life of his school, Jonathan knows he has some more lasts before his year’s done. So based on the sadness he felt after his last soccer game I think he’s already dreading the next major last.
So on our way home from his last game I reminded Jonathan that a season of lasts doesn’t last forever. In fact a last of something means a first for something else. Though I acknowledged to him that early in the season of lasts it’s not always clear what the new first will be. For example Jonathan knows he’ll be going to college, which is comforting at a certain level, but he doesn’t know where. And not having a clear and specific picture of the first can make the season of lasts most difficult.
Yet once there’s clarity about the new first – in this case where Jonathan will be attending college, it’s easy to move from the sadness and loss to excitement about the promise that new first brings. But the key is finding that new first, to have a real and tangible plan beyond the last last. The more specific the plan, the easier it is to have the lasts feel like they’re giving birth to the new first instead of bringing an end to all things good and happy. That’s why this week Jonathan, Denise and I are making our first official college visits. Not to run away from the lasts but to put them into a different light, a light of a new first.
Now this all sounds really good as I’m saying it to a 17-year-old but here’s the real test of my fatherly advice – with Jonathan being our last child it also means Denise and I are also experiencing a season of lasts. After nine high school soccer seasons as a parent, Jonathan’s last game was also our last soccer game, his last basketball game will also be ours, his last day of school will be ours. I’ll admit I’m very sad about it all and already feel the loss that having no kids in school will bring to our lives.
Yet now it’s time for Denise and me to heed our own advice and have a plan and envision a life as “empty nesters”, and to discover our next first. What will it be? I don’t know but I’m excited to find out.
In the same boat, Mike. There were times when it was more sad for me than the kids. I have learned to treasure the moments and thank God for experiences that I was given as the kids grew. There is “a time to embrace and a time to refrain and time to search and a time to give up” (Eccl 3). thanks for the post.
Yes Pete, those verses have been on my mind alot. Thanks for sharing them.
I won’t be in your season for a very long time, but thanks for sharing. My kids felt this same dynamic a little when we were moving out of our condo and into a house/yard/neighborhood (that hadn’t yet found). We packed all of their toys and said goodbye to their friends, and they couldn’t see why. It was sad for them, without being able to envision the future new/better life that Leanne and I believed was ahead..
Is this how it feels when we pass from life on Earth? Is it faith practice?
The other side of this season I think is contentment. I wrestle with that. Is everything okay as it is, or does something in my life need changing. I know people who appear to cope with life by always looking ahead to the next holiday, next vacation, next weekend. There is something shallow about that to me. My Grandmother told me once that when she as younger she found great joy in looking forward to the future, but when she became old she found strength in looking back at her past. Those words have stuck with me, and I have put them to use often.
Have a great year of ‘last’ with Jonathan. I know you know how to make memories, Mike. And I will be grieving with you the end of your kids-at-home season.
Great reflections Kenny, thanks so much for sharing. Yes, I agree we can move to fast to the future and miss what God has for us today, and we may even miss the joy of remember God’s goodness in the past. I hope Jonathan will have great memories of his life at our school and in Evart.