The Difference A Year Makes.
I’ve seen plenty of them this week.
I’m talking about those side-by-side snapshot comparisons of that nerve-rattled first day and last day of preschool, first grade, fifth grade, eighth and beyond.
I’ve seen the signs that started sparkly with glitter and paints and ended with ballpoint on a standard-ruled page.
I’ve seen the smiles that began proud, with a little uncertainty welling up when you look close enough. Full of excitement and poised to follow wherever the next step leads.
And I’ve seen them even prouder, accomplished, as if they’ve passed pop quizzes, gotten through gym class or learned how to make friends over chicken nuggets and ketchup.
And I wonder who’s missing; who we don’t see. You know, who’s on the other side of that camera lens.
I think of the mommy who held her newborn and couldn’t imagine first steps coming, let alone ziplock-packed lunches.
I think of the daddy who remembered how he struggled with math and retaught himself algebra to help his son pass the tests.
I think of the little brothers and sisters watching with questions on where they’re going and why they can’t come and how they want to hear all about their day.
I think of the bigger kids passing down teacher tips and homework advice and confident reminders that they are bigger and will have your back.
I think of the grandparents who have faithfully prayed everyday that the time between each first and last would be filled with joy, with even better yet to come.
And so, dear children, you may feel rushed or slowed down to take another of those yearly photos. And you may look back and see changes in height or your haircuts.
But if you look closer, there is so much more.
Even if it’s hard to see, there was always someone smiling back.
And you were never alone. You never will be. You are cheered by a team, by your team. All celebrating each victory together.
And it is a victory. Each year, each school grade achieved, each healthy decision you will make is a win as you develop into the you who God will use.
And He has big plans.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
So we will rejoice in your growth and in another year down. We will give thanks and enjoy our part.
It does go fast; we can see it before our eyes, even the difference a year makes.
Lord, lead us, lead them to make a difference for you.
How have you watched your children change over the past year? How do you find encouragement and direction when trying to encourage and lead your little ones? We as parents are also undergoing a refining change each year, as children of our Heavenly Father. Lord, teach us to seek you first and love you more.