I’m not generally a fearful person, but I freely admit being apprehensive as my 17-year-old son and I drove through the rain slick Atlanta streets towards the airport this past Monday morning. He was on his way to experience a rite of passage of sorts; flying unaccompanied to visit relatives up North.
At least I wasn’t as worried as his mother. For days leading up to this, my wife had given our son a steady stream of instructions and warnings at irregular intervals. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous.
Our son hadn’t flown since he was a toddler, and I was acutely conscious that I was sending someone who preferred to use landmarks instead of street names to find his way, into an environment where he’d need to read the directions on view screens and navigate through crowded airports using hard to understand maps. We worried that he wouldn’t remember to keep his wallet on him, (he didn’t); we worried that as a diabetic he wouldn’t have enough insulin and snacks to keep his blood sugar constant, (he did).
I let him drive as we left our home at 2AM to head to the airport. Partially to let him build confidence that he could handle this, partially to let him practice night driving and mostly so I could pray silently.
As we got closer to the airport, I felt at peace for two reasons:
1. Whether or not our son is with us, we aren’t actually the ones protecting him, our Lord is.
2. We had prepared our son over the years to handle adversity and the unexpected.
So when we pulled into the airport I told my son, “Son, you can do this. There comes a time in every young man’s life when he’s got to leave home with nothing but a sword and a small bag of coins to find out what he’s made of. He goes out a boy. When he comes back from his journey, he’s a man. Now it’s your turn.”
After he landed, our son let us know that while the trip wasn’t uneventful, he was able to handle it and would be even better prepared when it was time to return. I’ll still be praying but I know that when he gets off of that plane, he won’t be a boy anymore. And that’s a good thing.