OK, to be totally honest, my sons are not kids anymore.
At 32 and 28, they are men.
But, as any parent knows, your kids are your kids are your kids…
They certainly grow up, but your heart still holds on tight.
I have found that the journey of parenthood is a series of *letting go* moments. From the moment a child is born, we learn to negotiate the stages of their development and growth into independence.
Most of the time, it's an exciting journey.
Sometimes it's the hardest thing a person will ever have to do.
It is really hard to love so intensely.
It is really hard watching your children make their own decisions, especially when you feel like they could be potentially wrong decisions. It is really hard to watch them go through painful circumstances, and to see them feel sad or discouraged or upset. It is awful to watch them when they're sick or injured.
And, the older they get, the less and less you feel like you can do anything about any of it.
It's ironic to me in some ways that we work so hard to raise our children to leave us one day. That our primary goal is to bring these little ones into mature adulthood, and that independence is a character trait to be nurtured and instilled.
I don't know about you, but some part of me had to work hard at this.
Because the truth of the matter was that there was a part of me that never wanted my boys to hurt. I never wanted them to be sad. I didn't want them to struggle, to make mistakes, to find out how tough life can really be sometimes. And, truth be told, there was a part of me that never wanted them to leave.
I did, but I didn't.
And this is the tug/pull hanging on, and the push/prod spurring on that summarizes the bittersweet dance of parenting.
Let me tell you, I am very close to my two sons, a blessing for which I am very grateful.
But it's still so hard to watch them when they go through difficult things. I have always been known as a helicopter mom. (Definition: a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children). In fact, my sons have occasionally been known to call me "Whoop, Whoop" – (insert sound of rotor blades here).
I try hard not to meddle, to give advice only when asked, to be a support and not a nag, to release them to their own lives.
But that is the hardest thing for me, really – to release them into their own stories, their own journeys, and their own walks with the Lord.
Years ago, my old church had a wonderful Good Friday service. Maybe some of you have had this experience, but it was totally new to me. At the end of the message, everyone was asked to write down something that we wanted to give up, to hand over to the Lord.
I wrote down the names of my sons.
Then we walked down the aisle, picked up a hammer, and nailed that symbolic piece of paper to the cross.
In retrospect I think perhaps I must have only used a thumbtack – maybe even a post-it note. Because I still find it nearly impossible to yield those boys to the Lord, and I just keep *taking them back*.
I have long struggled with the story of Hannah in the Bible. Hannah, who was so desperate for a child, who agonizingly prayed to the Lord for this gift of life, who promised that if she gave birth to a baby she would give that child back to the Lord.
Well, you know what happened.
God did indeed give her a child, Samuel. And Hannah stayed true to her promise. When Samuel became a certain age, Hannah brought him to the temple and handed him over to Eli, the priest, to be trained in the ways of the Lord.
I'm uncomfortable with Hannah's story.
While I completely admire her for her dedication, her selfless character, her unswerving commitment to honor the Lord with this most precious gift – there's my *mother's heart* that just agonizes over her decision.
I picture that day when she kissed Samuel and said good-bye.
I'm not sure that I could have done that.
But, there's the rub.
And by rub, I mean the Holy Spirit convicting me!
Rubbing up against my earthly flesh, rubbing off the rough edges, rubbing to polish the parts that don't reflect the Lord so well.
Because whatever is nearest and dearest to your heart, whatever is your passion, whatever you treasure most – THAT is what God is going to ask you to surrender to Him.
Jesus counseled His disciples to count the cost of following Him. And then He told them that if they truly wanted to follow Him, they'd have to pick up a cross.
Cross-carrying is not for the faint of heart. It is a courageously painful journey of surrender that does NOT come naturally to our self-serving ways.
Because, after all, dying to self is excruciating.
(Did you know that the root word for excruciating comes from the Latin word, excrucitus, which is equivalent to ex + cruciāre - meaning to torment, crucify – a derivative of crux = cross)
And just as sure as I am that God will ask us to surrender the most hard-to-yield things (or people), I also know that the enemy of our souls will tempt and taunt and poke and pester us in this area more than anywhere else, because this is where we're most vulnerable.
Yes, the enemy will go after the things that we love.
He'll make surrendering feel like losing control.
I know this because it happens to me all the time.
The harder I try to give my kids over to the Lord, the more the devil entices me to tighten my grip. The harder I try to relinquish them to their Father's care, the more the enemy increases my reluctance to let them go.
It's a foolish, yet viciously tenacious battle.
In the end, the thing that I don't like hearing from people – that my sons belong to the Lord, and they are only loaned to me – in the end, that is Truth.
And, no matter how much I love those boys, my heavenly Father loves them more.
So, what is God speaking to your heart today?
What is He calling you to surrender?
Maybe you're like me.
Maybe the hardest thing to give over to Him is your kids. Maybe you struggle with their burgeoning independence, and the ability to make choices and decisions that could be oh-so-wrong. Maybe you ache over their pain and suffering. Maybe you wish you could keep them from all the hard stuff of life.
Maybe you wish you could spend your life "whoop-whooping" over them.
Hovering, protecting, guarding.
But, God is calling…
Calling you to surrender them into His care.
It's OK. He knows how hard it is. He understands.
For He gave His only Son – the Son that He loved perfectly – He gave that precious Son over to death. And if He loved us enough to do THAT, He'll surely take care of us all the days of our lives.
And that includes my two sons, whom I adore.
And because I adore them, I will continue to surrender them to the One who loves them more…
Lord, give me the courage to relinquish my sons to You. To let You do Your work in their lives, no matter where their journey takes them. Help me to not be afraid, and to trust in Your perfect love for them. Give me wisdom in my relationships with each of them. Enable me to be a good counselor when advice is asked for. And to keep my words to myself when I am tempted to be meddlesome. Teach them to follow You in all their ways. Thank You for bringing them into my life, and for the great joy they bring me. And yet, I also ask that You empower me to surrender them, to let go, to relinquish my control, and to trust YOU with every moment of their lives.
Thank You that You love them more than I do…and thank You for loving me.
Please tell me that you notice
the "helicopter rotor blade" arm
that I have wrapped
around the shoulders of my sons!
"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD..." (Psalm 127:3, NASB)
"I asked the LORD to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the LORD, and he will belong to the LORD his whole life."
(1 Samuel 1:27-28, NLT)
"'Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then...know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give...?'"
(Luke 11:11, NASB)
"'Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!'"
(Isaiah 49:15, NLT)
"'[Jesus] said to them, 'Let the children come to me. Don't stop them!'"
(Mark 10:14, NLT)
"Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.'" (1 Peter 5:7, AMP)
"'I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.'"
(John 10:28-29, ESV)
What, or whom, is God asking you to surrender to Him today?
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