One of the first things I do in the morning is walk our dog, Parker. He gets so excited when he sees his leash because what awaits him past the steep hill, and past our neighbor’s homes, is a large clearing lined with tall trees behind it in which he freely, confidently, and happily runs. I am almost always accompanied by my little shadow, Tal, our 5 year old son who, like Parker, enjoys the taste of freedom on his bike going down the hill, around the bend, and in and out of our neighbor’s yards.
In the afternoon and early evening, I repeat this same walk and I am often accompanied by all of my children. It is not uncommon in our home for my children to see me lacing up my sneakers and with the excitement bubbling within and their animated eyes, they shout,
“Are you going for a walk? Can I come?”
And each one of them sprints for the garage to choose what they will take on their adventure on our neighborhood walk.
While there have been many falls, bumps, bruises, and scrapes over the 9 years we have lived on this road; I have also observed each of my children growing in their confidence on their bicycles, skateboards, and running with pretend sticks and swords through the pockets of woods that are spread out through our neighborhood’s winding road. We have all felt a sense of freedom and confidence in the knowns and in the unknowns that sometimes await us on this familiar and routine part of our day.
There’s something about the familiar, the routine that gives us a sense of security. But, there’s also something about the unknowns that help to nurture the courage and faith we need in life.
Across the road from the clearing that Parker enjoys is a short span of woods in which frenetic jumps can be simultaneously heard as I walk the road in between; Parker in the clearing and my children in the woods.
It’s in that time that curious hearts are being strengthened with courage and wonder as they travel through the unknowns that might await them in these parts. On the one side I hear the voices of imagination, adventure and creativity as they shout out their pretend stories of how they’re overcoming great obstacles in the mystery and excitement of the woods. On the other side I observe Parker zig-zagging in and out of the woods, sniffing here and there, burying himself like a stealthy predator in the tall grass that lies in front of the trees. I see the sense of adventure and fun in his eyes and imagine that he’s got his own story he’s playing out in his mind.
It’s on these walks that I’m repeatedly reminded that our children and Parker will never achieve or know what they’re capable of if I keep them on a tight leash and if I don’t give them the freedom to find their confidence; to find who they can be and what they can do apart from me.
As I approach the fire hydrant, Parker comes running back to be put on his leash. My children are still acting out the workings of their overactive imaginations and trying to stay hidden from me because on these adventure walks I am not mom. I have become part of their game in which they challenge themselves to not be seen by me and make it through the mystery woods and yards of our neighborhood without my control or guidance. It’s when we return home that their sense of confidence and achievement to have mastered and overcome their imaginative and sprightly adventures leaves them satisfied. I can picture them all in their triumphant stances and bellowing voices, “See? We made it out of the woods and through the winding road on our bikes without you! We did it on our own!”
God brings to mind my own harrowing and real life adventures through some of the poor choices I made and just like I need air to breathe, I repeat aloud to myself, “You see, Laurie? You did it too. You turned out OK. You found God and called on Him in the dark moments and they will too!”
There have been a series of “letting go lessons” happening all at once in our family’s lives. There is much trepidation with letting go as parents, but when we accept the grace to know that we are not the perfect parent, we can open the door to the One who is and who will never let our children go. He will always be there waiting to grasp their hands just as He did with Peter when the waves of insecurity and fear came crashing against Peter’s life boat (Matthew 14:22-36).
I admit that I often want to protect and control every area of our children’s lives, but sometimes the trials that bring positive changes are usually in a way that we don’t want, or were not expecting in their lives, but they are the ones that our children need to grow. And, if we can allow ourselves to be really honest, they’re the ones that God uses for us to let go and grow too.
As a professing believer, I have had to accept what is even though I may not have liked it or planned it in the same way. I have had to let go of what was for the past holds lessons that we can learn from, and I have had to place my faith in what could be -believing that just like God saved, delivered, and changed me; He will do the same for them.
When we stop expecting our children and their situations to be perfect, we can begin to approach them for who and what they are in Him. If we want peace, we must acknowledge that their actions and purpose and how God chooses to teach them about life, may not be the same as ours in learning life’s lessons and maturing into who God purposes them to be.
On our daily walks I know that once Parker sees the clearing, and once our children have chosen and set their minds to the adventure of that time in our day, I am unable to hold onto that which wants to be let go. In order for us to let go of something or someone, we must first admit that we are holding on too tightly to it, to them. When we come to the place in which we are willing to admit that we are not in control, but God is (and He does a far better job than we ever could), we break the power of fear and anxiety over us.
The only thing each of us has control over are our own choices in life. But, God can take any bad choice and make it good.
Ultimately, it is not our wish for our children to constantly depend on us. We are not their Savior and Redeemer. We are children just like them in need of guidance, love, hope, and healing. Although my parents once worried about how I would end up when I didn’t even love or know God like I do now, He was there with an outstretched arm saying,
“I was here this whole time. All of you just needed to let go. I will do the leading, guiding, and refining. Trust Me.”
“And God will work out ALL things (including our bad choices, difficult upbringings, etc.) for our good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” ~Romans 8:28
Faith is found in the letting go and the letting go is for each of us to walk out individually in which God is ready to meet, save, and change us for the better.
May you always know that no matter how bleak the circumstances may seem, or how distant your children’s heart or opinions may be from your own – God is the One who carries us all in truth and love when our worlds feel like they’re falling apart. May you always have the confidence that how God chooses to free us from the strongholds in our lives will always be a more powerful and life-changing lesson learned with Him than it could ever be with us.
While letting go might hurt, let us daily choose to enjoy the moments that we have with each of our children, our loved ones, while we have them with us. May we know when to let go and let them know that while our hand may not always be there for them to grasp in strength and security, God’s hand is and He will never let them go!
You are loved, mighty child of the King!
I dedicate this to all of the parents who, like me, are in the process of learning to let go and let God.