Feeling a little melancholy after moving our youngest son to Kansas City last week, I have been trying to discern the cause of my angst. It dawned on me, a day or so ago, that I have been enjoying the first day of school with at least one of my children for thirty-four years. This thirty-fifth year, the youngest being graduated from Indiana University, began his chapter in 'adulting' with his first real job. In some ways, leaving the parking lot of his apartment, felt like it was my last first day sending my kids into their next chapter of life. I know that JD and I have done a pretty decent job parenting, although there have been many instances of faltering, missteps, and mistakes, there is really no test of pass or fail when it comes to parenting. We do our best at loving, knowing that we cannot help but mess our kids up in some way or another, it is the way of being human.

Which leads me to another reason to rely, and trust the one who teaches us to love with grace and mercy, Jesus Christ. Loving is what Jesus did best. He was able to love all people, his friends, his family, and then most miraculously, those who felt unlovable. He loved his people even when they did dumb things. He loved his people when they lied, when they abandoned him, when they were selfish, and when they disappointed him. In parenting ('people-ing'), we do the same. And, our kids (and our friends) will do all of these rotten things and yet we still love them. My hope is that when I do these things to my children (or my friends), that I will have been a role model to them, in the lessons of grace and mercy, forgiveness and kindness. The bond between children and parents is strong and made of love, supernatural love. Jesus Christ was our role model for the kind of love that we are to called to show.

Unfortunately, I've heard of parents and children who have separated because of some deplorable reason. And sometimes safety is an issue, for separation; I give thanks to God for foster and adoptive parents, child protective service people who can step in and show compassion and love to the innocent.

May God as our parent, Jesus as our role model, and the Holy Spirit as our guide be the trinity in understanding how to love our children, friends and family.

Noblesville's Teri Ditslear is a pastor whose column appears Saturdays in The Times. Contact her at pastor@rolcommunity.com, on Facebook or at www.rolcommunity.com