I’ve been thinking a lot about parenthood: how much of it is about letting go, and how the early years so ill prepare you for this reality. Ultimately we raise children so that they can walk off into the world, equipped to meet whatever challenges they face. We don’t raise them to keep them in our arms, but I imagine a part of us takes a lifetime to accept how much they are apart from us. Babies are given to us, but were never really ours.
It’s a bittersweet reality. On the one hand it’s so clear that this was the Lord’s design, and that it is beautiful and complete and the only way to true eternal life for any of us. And it’s also a bit of a heart wrench to accept that the child who was once a babe in my arms is now supposed to be walking further and further away from needing me, into independence and free choice.
It can’t but make me think of the Lord and His relationship with us all. As the ultimate parent figure, this process of nurturing and letting go encompasses so much of His relationship with all of us. And it gives me a real pang for how that would feel: needing to let us walk away, sometimes very far away, so that we have the chance of one day choosing to walk towards Him.
Of course the Lord has eternal perspective in a way I can’t. I ache and yearn for past states and doubt and wonder about future ones. I’m sure He doesn’t.
But I think this comparison gives me a slightly deeper appreciation for just how much He loves us. And what that love could look like. He loves us enough to let us go completely free so that we can choose a real relationship with Him.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
I come back to this quote a lot. A future and a hope is what we all long for for our children, isn’t it? But it involves so much trust. Trust that the Lord’s plan is bigger than the poignant growing process every family experiences. Trust that what waits at the end of the road is ultimately better because it is an adult friendship of equals. Trust that though much changes, nothing that is precious is truly lost.
Hopefully this letting go is really only the beginning of something wonderful with our children. But it still is a process and still holds a sense of loss. Something is given up and must change from the infant and toddler years of reliance. There must be separation. I am only at the very beginning of this process as my oldest enters school, but it has set me wondering at the grand plan behind it all: the process that just doesn’t seem real in those early sleepless days of new parenthood when you are – and are supposed to be – everything to your baby.
I do trust the Lord’s plan, at least in my head. My heart will hopefully catch up over the next 20, or 60, years. And in the meantime I will continue to cherish the moments of being so deeply needed by my young children, and seek to remember what joy awaits us all in my letting go, in time.