The other day I woke up to an empty nest. Even though the calendar says the last feather blew out the door almost two years ago, I beg to differ because emptiness lingers like the taste of a strong red onion. Just when you think you’ve rinsed away the harsh bite with minty freshness, morning breath reminds you of the perils related to a mouth closed for hours on end.
This current season of my life marches on as a brutal test of surrender. Letting go does not come easy for me, my spirit clenches as I try to control uncomfortable circumstances. Even though I Listerine with prayer, I’m learning a heart closed to complete trust in God’s ways leaves a nasty aftertaste. And walking through life with onion breath stinks.
A wise friend once told me little kids, little problems and big kids, big problems. At the time she yielded her sage advice, I thought her axiom was backwards. According to my limited and naïve life view, my little kids were throwing plenty of big problems my direction. Surely time and experience would vet out the struggles.
That was then and this is now. Then I was clueless, now I’m staring enlightenment in the face. Anyone with me?
When our kids are young, our role includes a duty to nurture, guide, shape our kids to the best of our ability. To teach right from wrong, demonstrate the power of love, and help them navigate the struggles of life in a way that builds character, internal resolve, and compassion.
Then we let them go hoping and praying we’ve set them up for success. Our role switches from hands-on to hands-off; now spectators and prayer warriors cheering them on from the sidelines. As young adults, their choices, dreams, struggles, and joys stem from an independent spirit trying to find a landing place in the world.
The hardest part for me in this season is getting out of their way. Even more important, getting out of God’s way while he works in my kid’s lives. The thing is, I don’t like to see my kids hurting or struggling. Does any parent? When you spend eighteen years cleaning scrapes, icing bruises, mending broken hearts, letting God take over the role is H.A.R.D.
How many of you want to know what the end game will be with your kids? How a choice will pan out or how a struggle will resolve? I’m guessing all of you. The ultimate question is how many of you are willing to forego the knowledge in lieu of faith and a decision to trust? I hope you raised your hand. Up to this point in my life, I’ve been unable.
These words from a recent devotional, God Calling, saturated my mouth with pungent red onion:
Seek not to know the future. Mercifully, I veil it from you. Faith is too priceless a possession to be sacrificed in order or purchase knowledge. But faith itself is based on knowledge of me.
Have you ever considered a quest for knowledge a sacrifice of faith? I think the answer depends on what information we are seeking. Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock. But when we ask God for a crystal ball to alleviate our fears or suppress our doubts, we are in essence communicating a lack of trust in his wisdom, mercy, love. I feel bad over the prospect of God having to wave a holy hand in front of his face to wisp away the stench of unbelief.
This lesson epitomizes what God is trying to press into my heart during this desert season of Lent. Maybe he is teaching you a similar lesson. I think we all know the key to surrender is more knowledge of him. A greater understanding of his intense, burning, unconditional agape love makes doubting him a lesser possibility. All we need to do is gaze at the Cross for proof.
Letting our hearts bleed worry, doubt, and fear means we aren’t filling up on the sustenance of Christ’s Divine DNA flowing through us. His spirit is a constant companion protecting and consoling, guiding and healing, nurturing and loving.
And God wants us to remember he is our kid’s constant companion too. We need to believe his love for them transcends our love as a mother. Isaiah 49:15-16 says, “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has born? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.”
Sometimes our kids need to experience brokenness so God can piece them back together into his original design. Other times they need to make a bad choice so they learn a better alternative. And if we get in their way, or worse, in God’s way, our cloudy presence may prevent the healing, stymie the lesson, or cause more damage.
I don’t want to thank God for not giving me a crystal ball. But I must. He knows what he’s doing. And I don’t.
I don’t want to watch my kids suffer. But I will. God’s got every part of their back. And I simply can’t.
I do want to thank God for his never-ending patience with my thick-headed ways and for the gift of faith. Being human has its limitations. But being a human who chooses to depend on Christ has none.
I’m letting go. Until tomorrow, and no doubt sometime next week. Then I’ll let go again.