We sent our youngest daughter off to her senior year of college last week. After eight years of watching the kids leave it’s become easier. We hugged, said our good-byes early, and she took off later that afternoon when I wasn’t even around.
In the beginning this stinging letting go process accosted me unaware. My husband would have to peel me off as I hugged my child one more time in the dorm room. Home life was upset, my identify as a stay-at-home mom faded, and control diminished.
As a parent, this release of my children continues to pop up (with I’m sure more to come). I thought of all the first times I had to release my child to someone else:
- the first baby sitter
- the first kindergarten class
- the first slumber party at someone else’s home
- the first day of middle school
- the first time my child drove with the new license
- the first time my child traveled on an international mission trip
- the first time my husband and I dropped the kids off at college
- the first time we watched our daughter take off and drive halfway across the country to start her first job
It’s not just in parenting, though, where we let go. My father-in-law is quite ill and on my mind. I’m preparing to release him as I have both my parents. I’ve relinquished friendships as well.
I don’t like it. I don’t want to let go—yet I know it’s part of life. I must let my daughter go so she can be and do all that God designed her for. I need to let my father-in-law go so he can see His Father and be healed and whole in heaven.
We don’t let them go because we don’t care but because we do.
God never intended for us to cling to people. Even Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to cling to Him (John 20:17). He was leaving earth and going back to His Father, and Mary needed something else to cling to.
She would have to cling instead to the promise that Jesus would return one day. She would need to hold on to the promise that His Spirit would dwell in her, lead and guide her, and be with her.
I don’t know if she continued to live in the “what was” or the present–that Jesus would be just as alive after He left as He was while walking with her on earth. We do know that Mary Magdalene let go of Jesus, left, and found the disciples to tell them the good news.
Besides people, we need to let go of behaviors and attitudes that hold us back from following Jesus and experiencing all He has for us. These could be lies we’ve believed, anger we’ve harbored, bitterness that’s taken root, unconfessed sin, idols, prejudices that blind us to another’s plight, and hate that keeps us from loving others as God would want us to. They are toxic in our lives and others, yet we still hold on to them.
I don’t want to be ladened with any of these so l’m using this season to discern where I may be gripping something or someone too tightly. As I let go of my identity as a mother with kids at home, I cling to my identity as a child of God. It’s in this identity I know I am loved, cherished, blessed, forgiven and redeemed. I cling to Jesus believing I will always be a mother, but what that looks like will change. I’m letting go of some toxic things that never should have a had a hold in my life in the first place.
Friends, it’s time to release some people or maybe some things—those people and things we were never meant to grip tightly to.
Know, though, we never let go with nothing to hold on to; but rather we let go with one hand while holding tightly to Jesus and His promises with the other.