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When Your Purpose Doesn’t Feel So Good

July 13, 2010

My daughter, the Tree Hugger

This morning I watched through the glass at Kansas City International Airport as my daughter boarded a plane for Washington, DC. From there another plane will transport her to Johannesburg, South Africa. If all goes as scheduled she’ll be safe on the ground and in the company of friends by 2pm CDT tomorrow.

This is Xandra’s first time traveling without Mom and Dad. It’s her first time out of the country. She’s been planning and preparing for this day for over two years, and I know it will be a life-changing experience. I look forward to hearing all about her adventures when she returns on July 25. But right now I just feel blue.

I’ve written in this blog about redeeming your purpose, that experience of being in the “zone” when you know you are in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing for the right reason. Yes, I was in the right place this morning as I waved goodbye to my little girl. The monitor above Gate 11 told me we were there at the right time. She’s going to South Africa to serve AIDS orphans (right thing, right reason). But I didn’t feel like I was in the “zone.” I felt like something precious was being torn from my grasp.

Xandra & Grammy at the piano

Yesterday afternoon Xandra took a break from packing for a short nap. As she woke up I sat down next to her and said, “You don’t have to go to Africa. You don’t have to go to college. You can just stay here with us. We’ll always keep your room just like it is right  now. You’ll have to get a job at Pour Boys to help pay the mortgage, but you never have to leave home.” I was kidding (mostly) and she knew it (mostly) and we had a good laugh. But underneath the laughter was a foreshadow of grief. Xandra is 17. She’ll be a senior in high school. We’re visiting colleges this summer. In just a little over a year we’ll drop her off at a college dormitory.

Xandra & Grammy at the piano again

Where did the time go? How did this all happen so quickly?

I know that my wife and I are supposed to prepare our children  to leave the nest. That is our purpose as parents. There have been many parenting moments when we were in the “zone” and time stood still. But today time is moving much too quickly. We’re not ready to release our little girl, and I wonder if we ever will be.

And yet, if we don’t, how will we ever get to hear the stories of her adventures? She can never live out her purpose if we don’t let her go. I know this to be true, but the truth does nothing to stop the ache I feel in my heart today.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Janny permalink
    July 13, 2010 10:15 pm

    Richard, (I still have a difficult time not calling you Dick)
    This made me cry, big time. Xandra is so blessed to have you as her Dad as I know you are of her. There aren’t very many Dad’s quite like you, to share with her what is in your heart as she is off to such a fantastic voyage in her life. I’m sure there will be many more, and your heart strings will still pull a little tighter, maybe a little harder each time. Both you and Tracy have set such a strong example of your love for her, and by letting go is what you are to do in order for her to make some of the most wonderful experiences in her life. Just to know that she will be reaching out to others, touching their lives and in the future, they will always remember a beautiful young lady named Xandra Potter.

    • July 14, 2010 8:28 am

      It’s okay, Cousin. For as long as I draw breath I’ll be at risk of being a Dick. I’d just rather not be reminded every time someone says my name. 😉

      Thank you so much for your comments. You’ve traveled farther down this road than I, and I know you know the twists and turns and ruts and potholes that lie ahead. I am very grateful that we’ve been able to reconnect via Facebook etc. I may be calling on you someday for strength and support! As for my role as a Dad, I stand on the shoulders of some incredible fathers who have passed on their wisdom to me. In addition to my dad, Tracy and I give lots of credit to John Rosemond for providing some very valuable tools in that regard. Probably more than anything else, we have to point to God and our church family ( The burden of parenting is not meant to be carried alone, and our church provides countless opportunities for children to learn to be respectful, responsible citizens. Plus it’s a lot of fun.

      Thanks again for reading, Janny, and for crying. Mission accomplished!

  2. July 17, 2010 4:15 pm

    Hey Richard,

    I love this post especially since we get to experience this side of the world with your baby girl. She will have many stories to tell when she returns, and I can assure you that they will be life changing. Don’t worry, we are feeding her well and taking care of all the kids. They are having a blast. I saw your little girl take care of a baby for a long long time this morning who is blind and lays in a bed all day long with little interaction with other kids. She sat and talked to her and touched her head and face to let her know that someone was there and loved her. It was priceless. Much love Richard.


  3. July 27, 2010 7:33 pm

    The hardest task any parent must face in life is to let their children go and grow up. You are taking admirable steps toward accepting that and giving a roadmap to others.


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