Some people say that giving birth to a child is the hardest thing about having kids. Others say that it is the years of teaching, disciplining and rearing that is the most difficult. As I have entered the years of empty nest and look back on my years raising my kids, I say that learning to let them go is by far and away the hardest part of having kids, especially when you have loved them deeply. When you hold that little newborn in your arms for the first time, all you see is the love and the sweetness of having this perfect creation in your life. The “letting go” idea has not even entered your mind. (Unless you are giving them up for adoption). Through the years of growing and teaching, yes, you may have times when you say “I can’t wait until they are old enough to . . .”, but the idea of “letting them go” is still not there.
Some may have the joy of having their adult children close by where you can visit at any given time, so the hard process of letting go isn’t so hard. But then there are others, like me, who have to watch as their child chooses a path that requires them to live on the other side of the world doing a job that can be risky. It is their life now and they have new people that they have to be accountable to and report to and after the goodbyes have been said and the gripping hugs are given, they turn and walk away taking pieces of your heart with them. You are left crying your eyes out in the bathroom stall of the airport after their form has disappeared from view through security. How can you possibly let them go? As they walk away, you begin to see images of them as newborns in your arms. You feel their little arms around your neck as they give you hugs for letting them have ice cream. You remember the bedtime stories and singing to them when they were sick as you rubbed their foreheads with a cool cloth. Who will care for them, love them and protect them as much as you have?
Believe it or not, there is One who loves them even more than you do. There is One who has always been and will always be able to protect them far better than you ever could. It is when your child turns and walks away and your tightly, gripped hands open to let them go that you realize just how much you desperately cling to the One who you can see walking away with them. It is in the “letting go” that you come face to face with your ability to trust Jesus with the plans that He has for your child. He has promised that He will be with them even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Would Jesus lie about such a thing? NO! It is impossible for Him to lie! He has promised that those who take hold of the hope that is offered us through His work on the cross, will be able to stand firm and secure with this anchor of hope (Hebrews 6: 18-20). So on those long, and agonizing days and nights when communication with your child goes unanswered, you hold fast to this anchor knowing that wherever he or she is, Jesus is with them. When the days turn into weeks and into months and even years and you ache to wrap your arms around them again, you can rest in knowing that Jesus has His arms around them and that there will be a day when He will let it be your arms that will encircle them too. As I wait for that day to come, I pull out the photos and I look at that sweet little face, never seeing the soldier that he would become, but seeing, now, the plan that God had all along. My hands are open, he is yours now. Love him and protect him well, Jesus! (Psalm 91).