I bought the boy new shoes, the same size as mine.
His lanky frame is stretching taller each day, his hair and his height making him look older than he is.
He’s asking questions and pushing back and not satisfied with simple answers anymore. He’s demanding more freedom and responsibility and forever stretching the boundaries.
When he can’t understand why I’ve said no and slams the door on a Sunday morning I wonder where I went wrong. I put my hand on his shoulder as he’s climbing into the van and suggest he takes the two minute drive to church to get his heart right to worship God.
He shrugs my hand off.
And when I break the news to him that we’ve chosen to help my Farmer Dad on that same Sunday afternoon instead of joining friends for BBQ and fireworks, he growls and grumps.
When once I could contain him and at least manage his behaviour with a few stern looks and time outs, I can no longer.
I feel a sense of loss of control.
The pastor had said it from the platform that morning. “We must learn to hold onto things loosely. Our money, our possessions, our accomplishments, and even the people we love.”
It’s that last one that struck a deep chord.
Parenting is a process of letting go. It’s about investing our time and energy and very lives into our kids, pointing them to Christ, and then leaving them in His hands.
Raising children is not the only area of life in which we must relinquish control.
We bring chicken and salad to the farm, to a hardworking farmer who is too busy laying down seed to go to the grocery store. He asks us to follow the tractor to the next farm, and as I set out behind the dusty planter we pass the cemetery where she is buried. I glance down the rows of gravestones to hers at the end, and the sudden tears surprise me.
This was her job. Three springs ago she would have been following her farmer husband from one field to the next.
I couldn’t hold on to her tightly enough to prevent losing her.
We must hold onto the people we love loosely, knowing we will have to let go of them some day.
Love fiercely, yes.
Hug tightly, always.
But hold loosely. This means leaving them in God’s hands and trusting Him with the outcome.
This isn’t the end I would have chosen for her.
I pass the tractor and wave and meet him half an hour later at the entrance to the field with a dripping ice cream cone. When he opens the door of the tractor to take the treat he smiles down at me, and I’m ten again, desperately trying to please my daddy.
But even this I can’t control.
Hard as I try, I can’t manage other’s opinions of me. Nothing I can do or say will control what they think of me.
I’m realizing any control I once had was just an illusion.
Letting go means letting God.
Holding onto the people that are most dear to me with an open hand and trusting God for their future is an act of faith.
I take a walk the next morning to talk to God. I tell Him He can do infinitely more than I can ask or imagine in the lives of those I love most. And so I don’t have specific requests. I simply ask for Him to grab hold of the ones I’m surrendering into His care.
Grab their hearts.
Grab their lives.
And make them His.