Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Things I've learned
Staring down the second Christmas with Braeden on his mission, I am thinking about this time. It's a unique time. It's a brief time (although it doesn't feel all that brief). Here's some of what I've learned as the mother of a missionary.
1-People are amazing.
This morning the woman who is hosting Braeden for Christmas kept texting me questions about what he likes so she can treat him well on Christmas. My response "he likes everything" wasn't enough. She wanted something more specific. She really wants to show him he's loved.
All the random people that text me pictures of him and tell me they love him? They make my day. They have no idea how much it all means.
2- Braeden is changing in wonderful ways.
I see it in little glimpses and nothing so concrete that I could explain it well. I see him focused. I see him more mature. I see him generously serving. I see the wise advice he sends his siblings. (My favorite advice is when he tells them to listen to Mom and Dad. And I'm not even paying him to say that!) I am looking forward to getting to know him all over again.
3- It's hard.
The information we get could only be described as coming in dribs and drabs. For starters, writing isn't Braeden's best form of communication. If I could just talk to that kid for 5 minutes, I'd get a lot more. Also, emailing just once a week isn't enough! I wish I had more contact with him. It's hard not to know how he is doing, really. It's hard to see him struggle and be helpless to fix anything. It's hard missing him. Awhile ago, I was talking to Marianne and Robert about the hole in our family with Braeden gone. Robert said, "It's only one less person."
But he's a lot of a person. We didn't fully appreciate until he was gone what Braeden added to our lives. I used to tease him that he isn't really the center of the universe.
I could have been wrong though....
4- Even though it's hard, soldier on.
Over and over I have seen Braeden keep going even when the going is rough. I'll never forget the day last winter when I was particularly worried about him. A lady called me who wanted a recipe. She was going to be feeding him later. She told me how great he was and what a help he'd been. She said, "Our dog even likes him." In that moment, I realized that even though it was hard, even though he was struggling, he was powering through it. It's a lesson I've tried to internalize when the going gets tough for me. I can still serve. I can still try.
5- It's worth it.
It is. When I see the differences, big and small, he's making in people's lives, I just feel grateful that I am able to share my bonnie boy with the world.
His mission has prompted conversations with our other children and taught them in ways we never anticipated. He is forging a way for them.
I'm grateful for the stretching his mission has required of both him and me. It is painful stretching but it has ultimately stretched us in directions we needed to go.