parenting

Letting Go

“Mom,” my 13 year old began, “can I go to Mississippi with Miles?”

Of course, the normal questions began to spill from my mouth. When? How much? What are you going to do? How are you getting there? Who is going?

As with any normal teenage boy, he knew very few of the answers. He began to gather details for me. His friend Miles and Miles’ dad were driving to Mississippi to help rebuild a church. Miles was planning to take a couple of his friends to help out on the adventure, and he wanted Cole to be part of the trip.

My heart was somehow simultaneously thrilled and terrified.

What a  joy to know that my precious teenage son wants to give part of his summer to go across the country and work with a church, giving of his time and energy to participate in hard physical labor. I was absolutely bursting with pride on so many levels and absolutely overjoyed that Miles’ dad would be willing to take my son and pour into him!

And yet, the thought of sending my precious child across the country without me there to protect him was absolutely terrifying. Yes, I trust Miles and his family. Yes, I know God is going to be with them. But, what if they aren’t as adamant about seat belt use as I am? What if there’s an accident on the way? What if Miles’ dad falls asleep at the wheel? Somehow it seems so much safer if I am there to watch over my child.

******

My oldest got his driver’s permit five months ago. He has been driving us everywhere, putting in well over the required 55 hours of driving to be eligible to test for his driver’s license. In only five short weeks, he will be old enough to take his exam and drive solo.

I am simultaneously thrilled and terrified.

For the first time in nearly six years, I will not have to play chauffeur every waking moment. If I have an errand that I need someone to run, I can send my son. If he wants to stay after school and play basketball, I don’t have to make the extra trip into town to pick him up. If I need someone to run my daughter to tumbling, I can send him.

And yet, my son will be behind the wheel of a car without me there as an extra set of eyes. I will no longer be able to remind him to stop at every stop sign and make sure he uses his blinker before he turns. Who will be there to monitor his speed? Who will remind him that he needs to look before he changes lanes? Who will tell him to pull to the right when there’s an emergency vehicle? Somehow it seems so much safer for him to drive if I am there watching over him.

******

I always thought that I was a pretty laid back parent, that I don’t get too ruffled about things. But I am realizing that—when it comes to my kids—I like to be in control. I want to keep them close to me, keep them within reach so that I can grab them and pull them from danger. Sure, I will give them freedom to go places and do things, but I still want to be in control. I want to be the one watching over them, protecting them from all of the evil in this world. After all, no one else will watch my kids as closely as I will.

Honestly, when it comes to driving, I have reasons to be slightly concerned. You see, not only was I in a life-changing accident at the age of 20 (caused by a 16 year old male driver), but I have lost so many friends to car accidents.

But what I am truly struggling with is letting go of my children.

It seems like just yesterday that Blake was a 6 lb 12 oz preemie, cuddled up in my arms, coming alive at the sound of my voice. I remember so well when he finally teetered precariously across the living room by himself. I still see that brilliant little two year old teaching his grandma how to access the computer by typing my name in the password window. Surely it was just a few days ago that I dropped him off at his first day of preschool with Ms. Patty.

But in reality, he is now a 6’4” young man with facial hair. He is (still) brilliant and responsible. He has been out expressing his entrepreneurial spirit by trying to start a lawn mowing business this summer. He is a good driver that has proven himself behind the wheel. Honestly, I’ve been blessed with an amazing young man.

Cole is the same way. Despite the fact that I still see him as this precious little baby who was full of zeal and energy from the moment he was born, the reality is that he’s a mature, responsible, adventurous young man who has done a great job picking godly friends. His heart desires to know and love God more each and every day. He loves to serve others out of reverence for God. How doubly blessed I am! (I’m really triple blessed, but Cassie isn’t quite old enough for me to struggle with letting go of her. I can cling tightly a little longer…)

My kids are growing up. I know that I have to let them go, let them express themselves and their own personalities. I have to let them find their passion and purpose in life. I have to let them take risks and make mistakes and grow from them. I have to let them have adventures without me watching over their every move. I have to trust that I have poured enough into them to teach them how to make wise decisions. Most of all, I have to trust that God is watching over them, protecting them, because he is truly the only one who can.

I remember when this single parenting adventure began. Back then, I couldn’t see it as an adventure. But I remember so clearly my prayer of surrender to God.

“Lord,” I began, “I will take this, but don’t you dare mess with my kids!”

Yes, I truly prayed that prayer, almost shaking my fist at God. My marriage had crumbled, publicly and painfully. I was beginning a most unwelcome journey. The one thing I longed for more than anything—a marriage that goes the distance—had been ripped from me. I was left with nothing more than God…and my kids.

Adultery and divorce are absolutely awful, but I simply can’t imagine that anything can be more gut-wrenching and unnatural than losing a child. It doesn’t matter whether it is through death or miscarriage or rebellion. I simply don’t know that my heart could handle losing one of my three most precious gifts. My children were the very reason I forced myself to keep going in my darkest days. They needed me, and I certainly needed them. I simply don’t know where I would be without them.

And here I sit, watching my children grow into young adults. It won’t be long before they will be moving off to college, beginning their own lives without me. The days of late night conversations about life are fleeting. The frantic pace of basketball season will soon pass. The sounds (and smells) of a house full of teenage boys will soon be over. One day, the non-stop activity, ear-shattering sounds, and unimaginable grocery bill will be a distant memory. One day, even the smells of teenage boys and gym bags will be something I can only remember.

I must somehow find a way to simultaneously cling to these days while learning to let go of my children. I must somehow release my children fully into the hands of my heavenly Father and rest in his wisdom and sovereignty. I must somehow trust that he has great plans for my children just as he has for me.

Each stage of parenting has brought new challenges, new adventures. Each stage has somehow been more enjoyable than the last. Each stage has allowed me to see the faithfulness of God in the lives of my children, his tender mercies poured out upon them. Each stage has brought me closer to my children and to God.

I’m sure that this stage of letting go will bring its own joys and pleasures. I know that seeing the fruit of my labor—responsible, mature young adults making an impact on this world—has to be such a fulfilling stage of parenting! Someday I will have the joy of spoiling grandchildren in ways I wasn’t able to spoil my children. I long to see my kids walking in the light, serving their savior, well into adulthood. I long to hear them one day rise up and call me blessed.

I know that somehow I must release them from my control, loosen my grip on them. I must trust that I have done my job of teaching them to fly, that the lessons they have learned in these years have stuck. I must trust that they are learning to listen to the Father and walk in obedience without me.

I simply pray that my Father gives me grace and wisdom to let go of the most precious gifts ever entrusted to me.

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12 thoughts on “Letting Go”

  1. I am right there with you sister! I felt like this blog is a picture of my life. I have a 23-year-old daughter who is working on her masters in Chicago. She wanted to go away; however, there are times when she is lonely and homesick. I try to console her long distance, the best I can. She hopes to finish her program this year and return to Dallas.

    I also have a 17-year-old son who is completing his junior year in high school. It is bittersweet thinking that he will be going off to college in a year. I enjoy doing things for him, but I don’t want to do too much for him and do him a disservice for when he’s on his own.

    Some days keeping up with his activities, albeit it is not me who is doing it, makes me weary.

    In a year the house will be awfully quiet.

    It’s comforting knowing that I am not alone on this parenting journey. Thank you for sharing!

    Elizabeth May Sent from my iPhone 214.215.0940

    >

    1. Oh, you are not alone! I still have my oldest home for three more years, but I sense the struggle of releasing him to fly! My heart aches some days to hold that tiny infant close, to snuggle him. Instead, I find a smelly teenage boy who can carry me these days! Funny, I sense that he has the same struggle as me—wanting to grow up and be on his own while still longing for the security of his mom. Life can be so hard and so wonderful all at the same time!

  2. This is where I am. I have twins and they just graduated and now we are doing college orientation and it hit me I have to let go. That is a struggle for me. Thank you for touching my heart.

  3. God blessed me with three beautiful children and I had no idea how deeply I could love until I became a mother. I knew they belonged to the Lord first, and many times I found myself having to let go and trust Him because their circumstances were beyond my control. Last September I received a call late at night and the doctor told me I needed to get on an airplane as soon as possible. When I hung up the phone the Lord spoke to me and reminded me that “His ways are higher than mine and I could trust Him because He is a good and loving God”. Four days later, God called my son home at the age of 27. We never know what will be asked of us while we are on this earth nor will we understand. My girls and I have experienced a loss that has changed our lives forever, but God in His grace does comfort the broken hearted and He never wastes any of our sorrows; He is intimately faithful.

    1. Melanie, I am so sorry for your pain. I truly can’t even start to imagine the hurt of losing a child. What a beautiful testimony you have! Yes, I have learned that God is more than able to carry us through, that we can trust him even when it seems life is out of control. I am entering a new season of parenting, learning to navigate the waters of letting them go. It’s hard, but I know that he loves them infinitely more than I ever could! God bless!

  4. Hi Dena,
    I read part of your blog and found I agree with most of it but thought maybe I could help you with a few words to calm your soul. I also had a struggle when my first dau was born. I would plead with God to protect her and He did. She is 35 now and a “successful business woman”. I then had my second dau and knew the covenant between God and I covered ALL my children. I have been at peace as my last child, my son, is also 16 and learning to drive. None of them have even had any childhood diseases they are so protected! I still put angels around them daily also. There also has been alot of death in my family and life.

    The poetry of Kibran says our children are arrows that have been entrusted to us to shoot out into the world once ready. They are not ours, but His. He has entrusted us to raise them as best we can, then set them free to fly. It does not mean they will not fall, cuz they will, often. We are there after to keep them from falling off the cliff if needed. God gave us free choice and will and saw us through some pretty narly times! We survived and are better because of it. Faith is the constant battle within ourselves we have, Can we truly trust Him after all we have been through and lost? The grieving process is a painful one. Each layer of the onion is peeled away and we cry our eyeballs out to puffiness. We then dust off our worshiping knees and forge onward good and faithful servant.

    You have been abandoned by many and you carry the scars in your heart as I did also. It is in these times that we learn man will let us down always in some way shape or another, but God is always true to His word. He is true to His promise to never leave you or forsake you even when man has done it to you repeatedly. Your children will also let you down at some point in a decision that they make that is not a good one overall. It does not make you look like a mother whom has raised children to make mistakes, it means we all are human and in need of forgiveness. You are right, it’s not about you as Satan would love you to believe. It’s about out hearts as God wants us to learn.

    Forgiveness does not mean you forgive the persons actions or what they have done to you. Forgiveness has to do with our healing. We choose to give the pain, heartache that person has inflicted upon us, and give it up to God instead, to deal out whatever needs to occur as punishment if He deems that appropriate for that person. I wrote a book and thought about discussing my ex husbands sins and what had occurred to me in that relationship. I have forgiven my ex husband for all his sins against me and let God deal with his soul in the long run. His 5th wife just passed away and he’s on the search again…hum..think he’s learned yet? I won’t judge him, I’ll let God have that role. I don’t even want it! All it does is weigh you down.

    I wrote “Suffering OF The Christian” and discussed this very same healing on our soul. I feel your grieving and pray God will walk you through this and other trials unscathed. Find your gifts again as you now get to bloom to whom you really are in Christ. Pass all that love on to an unloving world. We truly are so blessed in the fire! Love…In Him…Coleen

    1. I pray angels around my children every single day! Ultimately, I know that they are in God’s hands–and there’s no safer place for them! He loves them infinitely more than I ever could. I am just entering this season of letting go as my oldest turns 16. It has really taken me by surprise that I am struggling to let them go! I know that ultimately it is the best thing for them and for me. God will see us through!

  5. Please can you tell me how I post your blog on Facebook.I love your blogs they are so open and honest.They are such a blessing.God Bless you

    1. Aww… Thank you! My website is http://www.denacyd.wordpress.com. If you are on a computer, there’s a Facebook link that will take you to my Dena’s Devos Facebook page. Then, you can “share” a post. You can also send me a friend request (Dena Johnson) and share from my personal page. Hope that helps!

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