“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” — 2 Chronicles 15:7

I hung out the window of our car. It was late August 2019. It was late and dark as we sped down 1-75.

We were somewhere north of Knoxville, driving our second child to West Virginia University. But I was just south of acceptable behavior.

Enthralled by a crime podcast, Chris, Wesley, and I were on our way to the halfway point, a Days Inn boasting paper-thin walls, dated Delta bathroom fixtures, and the faint smell of day-old food. We'd moved our oldest into an apartment the previous weekend. I was on edge and could not yank myself out from the wet blanket of emotional weariness. So no one was surprised by what I did when a bright white work truck suddenly slid across three lanes.

The truck driver cut the Mercedes in the next lane off, barely missing the black sedan.

Incensed, my cat-like reflexes sprang into action. I jammed my window and hung out of the car just a little. Leaning toward the truck driver, I offered a middle finger salute. Chris said I flung it up so fast I almost dislocated my finger.

Instead of confessing to Chris that my heart was a smoldering dumpster fire, and that I was a wreck and drunk with grief about our girls leaving, I acted like a fool in the dark.

Wesley's college move-in day meant two girls were out of our house, two others left behind, missing their siblings fiercely. It also meant a period in our family's life was over — a beautiful, adventurous chapter thudded shut.

For the record, I didn't plan to write about this. I'd planned to write about the grocery tax and why it must be repealed. And how weird it is that we'll find reasons to act anything but conservative in a conservative state.

But that will keep.

Because Wesley graduates soon. And though circumstances threaten to overwhelm once again, I offer the advice I could've used that August evening: Parenting is no joke, but curling up in the fetal position is not an option.

There will be a day when it's over and that chapter is closed, and the dorm is haphazardly moved into or out of. What do we do when we get to that point — or others — where we’re overwhelmed?

Be strong. Do not give up. Your work — even the work of letting go — will be rewarded.

Parents, the seeds you're planting now will reap a bountiful harvest; what you do matters. The road trips you take. The meals you share. The tables you set. It all matters.

Perhaps you have school-aged kids and are in the thick of year-end insanity when everything that was ever due was due yesterday. Or perhaps you are preparing to move your high school graduates into the dorm, or, like us, move them out. They're scared, and you are too.

But do not grow weary in doing good, even when walking with them into adulthood, because you're teaching them to do the same.

But maybe it's not even about parenting.

Maybe you're a caretaker, looking after parents who no longer remember your name or are rattled when you walk in the room. That job is accompanied by a special kind of grief that threatens to swallow you whole.

Perhaps you're looking after a spouse who lives with an impossible illness. And though you hope your spouse will get better, the reality is, he or she may not, meaning there is a lingering and palpable sorrow in this chapter of your life.

Or maybe the waves of misery and apprehension you feel are about our country. Maybe you're in the middle of our current political battles and epic culture wars that won't simmer down. Like the alphabet mafia that won't disappear. Or the state battles over parental rights in education. And you can't catch your breath.

Be strong. Do not give up. Your work will be rewarded.

That's what I should've told myself the night I lost my mind.

Instead of pretending everything was fine, and instead of offering the middle finger salute, I wish I would've told myself that the grief I felt, which many of us experience, was real. But also that it doesn’t last. Because no matter the circumstances or the level of apprehension and sorrow, God’s strength empowers us to continue with purpose, even when we think we can't.

Do not grow weary in doing good. We will reap a harvest at the proper time if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House District 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].