Learning the Letting Go

It’s that time of year where we focus on relationships – mainly of the romantic kind. For me, that focus has widen just a little since having kids.  I have an anniversary date to celebrate my love for my man, but at Valentine’s Day, I do my best to remind my whole family how much they are loved and celebrated. So thus the reason for today’s post:)

Y’all, relationships are hard! That’s no new revelation for any of us. In today’s over-connected world, it’s utterly impossible to go 24 hours without engaging with another person. No matter how hard we might try.

Our God, however, calls us to live in relationship. In fact, that’s the whole reason he created Adam, and then Eve. He longed for companionship, for someone with whom he could  share creation.  That same desire is deeply planted in each of us. (Even myself, who loves spending large amounts of time alone.)

God loves relationships so much, he created the whole concept of family. Putting very different people in close proximity with one another to learn how to love – really love without conditions. To keep it interesting, he lets us all get older so that the ways we used to love must adapt to new seasons of life.

Infants become kids who become teens who grow into young adults. And each time we must adjust our tools of discipline and love. As our kids become young adults and begin to navigate life on their own, we sometimes long for those child-like disciplinary tools that once filled our tool belts. We ache to give a lecture on the ills of bad behavior, poor choices, or annoying habits. We wish we could take away privileges when responsibilities aren’t met, just so we could help them “see” the error of their ways. When their spiritual life falters, or in some cases, vanishes, we want to drag them to church or quote scripture.

I wish I knew the exact age that the rules change, so I could write a book and become a millionaire. But I don’t. I do know that my prayers have changed. I’m learning to control my impulses to launch into a lecture or give unsolicited advice. I’m loving harder in spite of my frustrations. And I’m living by a single verse: The Lord will work out his plans for my life –– for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me (Psalms 138:8). With a singular change –– replacing the word “my” with the name of my almost fully-adult kid –– I gain a new perspective on my role in the life of my older offspring.

When my kids we young, I worked hard to instill in them a genuine faith, not one that I simply taught, but one I tried hard to live. I made mistakes often; I apologized often as well. Even in those days, I put my kids in God’s hands, but I still had a strong ability to influence their behavior. As they grow older, that all changes.

Now more than ever, I’m living the commitment I made on the day we publicly dedicated them to the Lord. This is the point where I allow the Lord to work out his plans for their life. This is the place where I rest in God’s faithfulness, in his perfect love, in his mercy, and his desire to give my kids a hope and future. This is where I loosen my grip and let God take both of their hands. This is where I FULLY TRUST God with my kids’ lives and accept that my role has changed.

The exact nuances of that role change is something I’m learning every day. Some days I’m an ace at accepting it; others, I fight it like a tiger. But there is still one thing that I do without fail: pray for God to chase them, move in them, and use them in His perfect plan. And according to Psalms 138:8, His word says he’ll do just that. And that is everything I hoped since the day they were born.

How has God helped you in this “letting go” season of life?

 

 

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Who Needs A New Year?

New Year’s celebrations aren’t really my thing. As I child, our family didn’t focus on the passing of an old year. I have no nostalgic memories of that particular holiday. Even as an adult, I don’t find New Year’s day any more special than the day that came before it or  follows it.

Each January, especially now with social media at its height, I’m made privy to the memories of the old year and plans for the new year of my family, friends, and acquaintances. Some wax eloquent about all the people who made their year so special; others make staunch resolutions with high hopes, still others curse the past year, thrilled to see it go. In all honesty, I find the celebration somewhat pointless.

While that sounds harsh and somewhat cynical, i.t isn’t If there’s anything I’ve learned in my “adult” life, it’s that a calendar date indicating a new 365 day time period doesn’t insure any special promises. It is, in fact, another year, where life will simply move on with both pain and pleasure, joy and sadness, surprises and setbacks, contentment and dissatisfaction, hellos and goodbyes, goals reached and abandoned.

If a year has been particularly difficult, we simply send it to history, and hope for a year full of, well, anything but difficulties. Can we say “wishful thinking?” (Please don’t view this as a Debbie Downer visit.)

Choosing to accept life as it comes — filled with both hardships and happiness — and not depending on it to change everything takes some moxie and a heap of trust in God. Jeremiah understood this.

Up until chapter three of Lamentations, Jeremiah wept over all the punishment, problems and pain he, along with the Israelites, had endured. He was intimately acquainted with the wrenching of life yet understood that it wasn’t the calendar changing to a new year that gave hope but it is a God whose great love and faithful mercies cover us. His hope lay in the truth that “because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (3:22).

It’s not an entire year that threatens to consume me, but often a single day. I’m not alone in that feeling. There are days when the sun rises and we wonder if we can even face it: the worries too great, the pain to deep, the fear too strong. Honestly in those moments, no changing of a date will help.

Only God can. Isaiah 40:31 says, But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. I’ve often read this verse and prayed for superhuman strength to face a difficult situation. I’ve never received it. In fact, what I have been given is simply the strength to make it through the day, my faith in God still in tact. I have walked and not fainted from the pain of loneliness. My heart has soared like an eagle in a desperate moment as I wept over the betrayal of a friend because I remembered a God who is faithful and bottles all my tears. I have continued to run my race and not grown so weary that I’ve chosen to leave the course even when the path before me seems impossible.

The reality that I haven’t given up is evidence of both Lamentations 3:22 and Isaiah 40:31. My soaring eagle strength and ability to not be consumed manifests each time I take another step, another breath, and travel another day in hope of my faithful God.

Who needs a new year to have hope for the future? God’s mercies are new EACH day, and I grab hold every morning.