July 1, 2013 was a hot and rainy Monday in New London, Connecticut. As my husband and I pulled away from the United States Coast Guard Academy, leaving our youngest daughter to begin her Swab Summer training, I strived to catch one last glimpse of her, but she had already marched into a sea of blue troughs, leaving me with a final image etched in my mind: that of a large, muscular young man, positioned within inches of her petite frame, staring intently and yelling belligerently, breaking all the rules of our household’s definition of “gentle” behavior. It was a tough image to leave with and as that picture played repeatedly in my mind, thoughts ran simultaneously: Was she ready for this? Had we prepared her adequately? Did she have all of the tools she would need to make it through such a challenging ordeal?
Deep down, beneath the levels of guilt and fear, I knew that nothing could have properly prepared any of us for Reporting-In Day. This entire event required a giant leap of faith. We were in unchartered territory and we knew we would have to take matters one day at a time. I kept telling myself that it was sure to be a rewarding experience once completed, but four years stood between us and graduation.
The phrase “nothing ventured, nothing gained” has proven true in my life. Such was the case when I agreed to serve as the Executive Director of a Family Promise Affiliate. The “unknowns” by far outweighed the “knowns.” I am so glad I was willing to take that risk and make that leap. Now, working as a regional director, I often encounter congregations and community volunteers pondering unknowns of their own. It takes tremendous courage to embrace something new, when the outcomes are not guaranteed. The same is true for families entering our programs. It can be a frightening experience to jump into a situation, forced to place so much trust in strangers.
We will soon watch as our daughter receives her degree and begins her journey with her first assignment. It has not been an easy road, but, we are making it. The past three and a half years, we have watched as others have dropped out, yet, despite our trepidations, we remain.
If we had known what her future held and prepared her adequately, it would not have required such a leap of faith. The unknown can be a blessing as it forces us to take things in stride and open ourselves to receiving help from others, as we realize we cannot succeed on our own. Our daughter’s experience has already expanded our world, and it is exciting to watch her slowly fulfill her dreams. I will be glad when May and graduation arrive, and am so grateful we risked taking that leap of faith!