Dear MU Parent,
I am extremely fortunate that I am able to enjoy not only serving at MU as Vice President of Advancement, but also as an MU parent. Our two youngest, Jamilyn (junior Global Studies major) and Jackson (sophomore Pastoral Ministry major) attend Multnomah and live on campus. This is their second year here at MU, and they could not be any more different in how they approach school. One is a “planner” and gets the books bought, papers written and schedules time to study. The other “wings it” and has discovered how to get A’s and B’s without ever buying a single book, leaves papers till the night before and manages to do well on exams with little to no studying – which drives me absolutely nuts! But guess what? It works for him. (Oops… I spilled the beans on who I was talking about.)
Now, you need to know I am a recovering “control parent.” Ask my wife Julia; she will tell you. She is a marriage and family therapist, and I take my cues from her when it comes to raising our kids. The single hardest thing for me, as my kids come to their college years, is letting go. In the early years, I had to learn to not send the text message asking them about getting a job, buying their books, making sure they study for classes, and just about every other need that comes up.
I have come to discover that I can’t play the Holy Spirit in their life. This is where the road ends for us recovering “control parents.” If I truly have trusted my kids to the LORD, and if I truly believe they belong to Him and I am merely a steward of their lives – I have to let go and let the LORD do His work in them, even when they stumble and fall, and I see it before they do.
Remember when they were toddlers and wobbled across the room and fell and cried? They have to do the same thing now while they are in college. There is a strong community of believers here at Multnomah. My kids will find their way, and I believe they’ll come out of MU with a deeper, richer meaning that they can own because they were left to experience life themselves. In the end – they figure it out.
That brings me to the second thing I want to say.
The Multnomah campus is fertile soil for kingdom learning and the transforming power of God’s Spirit. It’s been going on for 81 years and hasn’t stopped. Talk to any alumni today from any decade, and they will tell you the same thing: The DNA of Multnomah is the community that is created here on these 25 acres, year in and year out.
Our kids could not be in a better place on this earth to fall deeper in love with Jesus and discover and live out their true identity as children of God in whatever discipline they are gifted to serve His world.
Early in Jackson’s first semester last year, he was struggling with doubts about his faith. I remember taking him to the Burgerville across the street from campus one night and just listening to his heart and not trying to “fix” him and tell him why he was off. I just sat there and listened. When he was done talking about his doubts, which would send fear into any parent’s heart that have raised their son or daughter in the faith, I told him “I’m glad you’re struggling with owning your faith, Jack. You could not be in a better pace on this earth to ask those questions and not feel out of place or judged.”
He looked at me, bewildered. It was not what he was expecting me to say. I pushed him away from me as his primary source of wisdom and encouragement toward the godly faculty at MU, who have been speaking truth into students’ lives for decades, while allowing them to ask the tough questions – all the while creating a safe environment and a “no-shame” zone to do so.
Guess what? God showed up in Jackson’s life. And because he was given that space to doubt and question and ask – he has a much deeper understanding of who God is, his identity in Christ, and he’s more passionate about fulfilling his calling in life. In a sense – he has owned it. He’s God’s child first and Steve and Julia’s son second. I have to remember that daily.
So, moms and dads – I am here to say that I understand those of you who have a hard time letting go, or who need to send a daily text to check in on your son or daughter. Fight the urge. They are in the best of kingdom shaping hands. They will figure it out. If they don’t text back, it’s not because they don’t love you. They are getting deeply involved in the community here – and that’s a GOOD thing!
Vice President of Advancement
In each edition of the MU Parent Connection, we give the opportunity to one of you to reflect on something the LORD puts on your heart to say to other MU parents in the “Parent to Parent” section. If you would like to contribute something in a future edition, please contact Christine Thiessen at email@example.com. We’d love to hear your story!