Learning to Let Go
Lately I’ve had the opportunity to experience the joys and sorrows of growing up kids. No one ever prepared me for the heart wrenching experience of letting my children spread their wings and fly. When I was an ambitious youngster, I never gave a second thought to what my parents felt as I fearlessly stepped out into the adult world undaunted by what may lie ahead of me. I never for a second gave a thought to the “ripping away” that my mom must have felt when I chose to “do it my way” and live on my own. Now that I have one child out of her own, one carrying my first grandchild, and one in her last year of high school (not to mention my baby boy that is now 15 and 6 foot tall and the youngest that is visibly becoming a “woman”. Big sigh), I have begun to realize the brevity of life. I have begun to realize what Paul meant when he said that life is “but a vapor”. And I have to admit, I’m throwing a big tantrum to make it stop moving so quickly. I know that’s not the spiritual thing to do, but let’s just be real, letting go hurts. I’m only realizing that I am weak, but I am so glad that He (God) is strong. Maybe you are struggling with this today also. Maybe you’re at those beginning pangs of “the first of the lasts”, like the last time you had to buy a jar of baby food. Or the last time they rode a bike with training wheels. Or the last time they let you kiss them goodbye in public. You know, the things we don’t notice until they are gone. Maybe we can walk this road together as we learn to let go.
Earnestly pray for your children. Pray for their future. Pray for their future mates. Pray for their relationships. Pray into them the characteristics you want them to have. And then trust that He will do as He promised in His Word. He says His Word will not return void and therefore we can trust that He is in control and we can trust Him through every challenge.
Be in the moment.
Allow yourself to rejoice and grieve for even the smallest things. Celebrate. Rejoice when they rejoice. Hold them when they are sad. Take pictures, yourself included in those pictures. Allow yourself to put aside those things that can always be done later and focus on your child(ren). Take time to listen to their dreams. Be available to hear their heart. Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you to conversations that will allow them to express their heart. Seek ways that you can help them accomplish their dreams and prove their independence. Make the most of every moment that you have been given. Go to bed exhausted knowing that you have done the best that you could with the time you were given. And if that day was blown, give yourself grace to start new in the morning, for His mercies are new EVERY morning.
Be An Example.
Teach them the things that they need to learn in life. Sometimes it’s easier just to do it for them because you want it done right. Instead, take the time it takes to teach them, working together, to learn something new. Then sit back and trust that they have learned. It might not be perfect, but practice will develop competence eventually. And self confidence is built with accomplishing a task. Show them how you can handle it when you trust Christ to guide your steps and they will be sure to follow (eventually).
Let them make mistakes.
Refrain from having it your way. Preferably they have the opportunity to make mistakes while still living in your home, but even so, as adults, let them learn life’s lessons. Sometimes it is hard to watch your child suffer, but the only way for them to learn sometimes is to understand that there are natural consequences to our actions. “Tough Love” understands that in the real world no one rescues you. But you can let life’s experiences be a learning tool for growth and maturity, even in your independent young adult. Give them the space they need to make mistakes, but balance that out with a listening ear and a prayer to see them through.
I believe the loneliness of the “empty nest” is a natural part of life. Find ways to be involved in the community. Perhaps this is the time to take on that task that you’ve been wanting to do for many years but never had the time for. Maybe you’ve had your own dreams and aspirations that were put on hold while your children were growing. Take steps to make those dreams a reality for you and those that you will be blessing while continuing to do what God has planned for your life. Just because your children are grown now doesn’t mean that God is done using you. Seek what He would have you do now that you are older and wiser.