Ornaments, Candles, Tees and More! Order Soon for Christmas Delivery!🎄 ➔

Let me set the record straight: I am terrible at holding my children loosely. So, there’s that.

However, I am an expert at knowing what I should do. Maybe this puts me in good company with the apostle Paul who lamented over why he kept doing the things he didn’t want to do. If that guy couldn’t follow his good intentions, then I think we can give ourselves some leeway and attagirls for trying our best.

When our kids are little, they need us for survival. Holding them snug is one way we provide comfort. As they grow up, we begin the slow process of letting go as they learn to do life on their own. From holding their own bottle, using a spoon, walking unattended, going to school, spending the night at a friend’s house, and taking the wheel. We spend our days watching in amazement over the progression toward independence.

While observing the natural milestones brings tremendous joy (along with a fair amount of trepidation at times), nothing prepares us for the trial of letting go of the emotional and mental wrangling that goes along with our kids’ walks toward and through adulthood. These less tangible realms can become hornet’s nests in our heart if we aren’t careful. So how do we avoid the sting?

The wisdom of Corrie Ten Boom rocked my world a few years back. She says the following:

“You must learn to hold everything loosely . . . everything. Even your dear family. Why? Because the Father may wish to take one of them back to Himself, and when He does, it will hurt you if He must pry your fingers loose.”

Not sure about you, but her words lit me up, exposing the truth about my death-grip-attachment tendencies. My weakness is holding my kids too tight in trying to protect them from pain, adversity, and struggle As if I have any power or control beyond God’s almighty ability to work out things for good in their lives.

My mental and emotional clinging looks like a mental script of what ifs and what thens: What if he can’t overcome this struggle? What if her prayer isn’t answered the way she hopes? What if he can’t find his way? What if she can’t figure this out, then what? What if his choice means that consequence?

The inner wrangling often translates into fearful conjecture, unsolicited advice, and a tendency to focus more on the problem instead of the problem solver, Jesus. Sometimes the problems we see aren’t even a reality in our kid’s lives. We see things not as they are, but as we are.

Which is why I think Corrie’s encouragement is divinely on point. Just imagine if, as mommas, we held on loosely to the following related to our kids:

  1. Our expectations (about anything)
  2. Our dreams for their future
  3. Our ideas about what’s best
  4. Our notions of what’s right
  5. Our concerns about their decisions
  6. Our worry over their struggles

If God has to pry our fingers off these areas of mothering, and He will, it’s gonna hurt like Hades. Trust me when I say I continue to experience the reckoning. The arthritis in my knuckles is proof.

But what does letting go or holding loosely look like? How much do we let go? All the way? A little? Only in certain areas?

Also, if we let go, won’t our kids fall? I’ve learned the answer is, no. Instead, they will find freedom. Freedom to grow, learn from their mistakes, build resolve, find strength, and trust in God to guide them and carry the load when they are unable.

We find freedom as well. Freedom to breathe by letting go of fear. We hold our kids loosely in the form of prayer and surrender. If there’s anyone who should be holding our kids tight, it’s the One who gave our kids to us on loan in the first place. God really does have their best interest in mind—and ours! He will always be there for both of us, in both the highs and the lows.

Let’s do our best to hold on loosely, mommas, so God can get a grip.

Originally published on the author’s blog

You may also like:

Dear Teenagers, Be Patient While I Let Go

My Heart is Learning to Let You Go

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Shelby Spear

A self-described sappy soul whisperer, sarcasm aficionado, and love enthusiast, Shelby is a mom of 3 Millennials writing about motherhood and life from her empty nest. She is the co-author of the book, How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don't need to say, "I'm fine.") , and you can find her stories in print at Guideposts, around the web at sites like Her View From Home, For Every Mom, Parenting Teens & Tweens and on her blog shelbyspear.com.

What Single Moms Really Need

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mom holding toddler on hip outside on dirt road

No, you’re not a single mom for a weekend. I’ve heard it said at social gatherings, in passing at church, and on social media. Perhaps the words are being uttered in a state of awe as if comparing themselves to valiant warrior princesses, knights in shining armor, heroes.  Usually though, it’s an under-the-breath complaint about being left by their otherwise attentive and loving spouse for the week or weekend. “I’m a single mom this weekend; my husband is on a golfing trip with his brothers.” “My husband is away for work, so I feel like a single mom this week.” ...

Keep Reading

You’re Never Alone in the Trenches of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding infant, color photo

This one goes out to all the mamas in the trenches. To the mamas in the kitchen stirring dinner with a baby on their hip. To the ones waking up an hour earlier than the rest of the house to pump after waking up countless times throughout the night to attend to both your toddler and baby. The ones who must take care of business from lobbies, bathroom floors, lunch breaks, and the carpool line. To the mamas who pass on their own birthday presents so their kid’s medical bills can be covered. RELATED: This is the Sacrifice of Motherhood...

Keep Reading

When You Stop Running into My Arms, I Pray You Run to Jesus

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child and mother walking on beach in sunlight

I love seeing the light in my little girl’s eyes when I pick her up from school at the end of the day. Her eyes open wide, and she runs to me loudly saying, “Mommy!” for all to hear. I pick her up and give her a big hug and kiss on her cheek. She smiles ear to ear and knows she is loved and adored. She feels safe in my arms, and I pray that never changes. I want to always be her biggest cheerleader and greatest fan–holding the streamers on the sidelines in shades of brilliant gold encouraging...

Keep Reading

Praying For Your Kids is Holy Work of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mom hugging daughter by bed with open Bible

While excavating Mount Masada in Israel, archeologists discovered something extraordinary . . . a date palm seed. It might not seem like much (especially if you’re like me and totally expected it to be a new dinosaur or something), but this particular seed sat dormant in the dry desert soil for almost 2,000 years. Scientists ended up finding several more seeds like it throughout the Judean desert, and with a little TLC, they were able to sprout not just one but six of them. Six date palm trees, now bearing fruit that hasn’t been seen in two millennia. Incredible, right?...

Keep Reading

Choose to Be a Mother, Not a Martyr

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, black-and-white photo

There is a trend in motherhood right now . . . maybe it’s happened for a long time, but now since I am a mom, I am experiencing it: this idea that everything we do as moms makes us a martyr. And honestly, I am guilty here more times than I’m not. RELATED: You’re a Mother, Not a Martyr We have these inner, silent dialogues between us and our husbands, parents, in-laws, and friends. Things we say and think, but they never hear. They compound on each other in the hallways of our hearts before bitterness creeps in without us...

Keep Reading

Motherhood Reminds Me How Much I Need Jesus

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding baby in nursery, color photo

Parenting is not only about the work it takes to raise up a child, but it’s also about continuing the work of being raised in Christ. Stripping back our innermost layers of selfishness and laying our pride exposed. Seeing ourselves as the center of our own personal schedule is no longer an option. Feeling like we have power over anything quickly vanishes into thin air. Parenthood pushes us to surrender and accept God’s sovereign control. Parenting sanctifies us.  Parenting shows us our sinful attitudes. When plans are ruined, when another blowout spoils the perfect outfit you chose, when your toddler...

Keep Reading

When Did I Become Such an Angry Mom?

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman with head in her hands

My oldest children and I had just navigated a tabletop board game. My son lost. My daughter won. I also lost. She’s four. For the record, I was trying my best. We were all putting the game away together when my son grabbed my daughter by the face and yelled, “IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYWAY BECAUSE YOUR BREATH STINKS!” And then, Mount St. Meredith erupted. I (not so gently) removed him from the situation and (not so calmly) insisted that he . . . brush his own teeth. Yep. For the record, I was trying my best. RELATED: Mom Anger: Taming...

Keep Reading

Angel Babies are Heaven’s Gatekeepers

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Mother and baby silhouette

I never seemed to have the right words. I didn’t have the right words at four years old when my parents lost my 11-month-old brother, and I never seemed to have the right words as I watched family members and close friends lose both the new life growing within their wombs and the beautiful, precious life resting in their weary arms. So, I did what I thought would offer the most comfort. I simply tried to show up and be there the best I could. I shopped for their favorite treats. I dropped meals off on front porches and toys...

Keep Reading

Secondary Infertility Took Me By Surprise

In: Baby, Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother holding toddler by open door

Selfish. Unfair. Guilt stricken. Shameful. Those were just a few of the words that regularly stabbed my lamenting heart as I longed for a second child. Yes, I was grateful for my healthy, beautiful boy who made my dream of motherhood come true, but why did I not feel complete—was he not enough? Was I doing this motherhood thing all wrong and didn’t deserve a second child? Why did I long to give him a sibling so badly knowing millions were aching for their first—how could I be so insensitive? So many questions, so many buts and so many whys....

Keep Reading

So God Made a Farm Mom

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Family walking on farm road at sunset

One day, God looked down at all the fields, barns, pastures, and farmers and knew He needed someone to take care of all the families on the land. He knew it had to be someone confident in herself to see that the farm doesn’t come first, even when it sometimes feels like it does. He knew the farm needed someone who understands her role is important, too—especially during the seasons of motherhood when she’s not out driving a tractor. Someone proud to stand by her farmer’s side.  So God made a farm mom. God knew farm kids would need someone...

Keep Reading