A Hand to Hold (letting children go)

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Dropped my sweet boy curbside at the airport yesterday. He headed back to college to start the second semester of his freshman year. He gives those kind of hugs that hang on a little longer than you expect them to…the kind that leave you teetering on the brink of not holding it together.

As he pulled his suitcase through the airport doors, I glanced down at his hands, and I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. I flashed back to younger years when his small hand mindlessly found my own as we walked side by side. Whether it was to school, to the movies, to the library, on family trips, or countless other excursions, he always sought out the comfort and security found hand in hand with mom or dad.

Traveling this life on his own now, he maneuvers his way through airports, deals with travel uncertainties, and arranges rides from Uber. All these things send a slight shudder down the spine of any protective mother. It’s strange, this concoction of pride and sadness that wells up in my throat, making it so difficult to swallow.

Letting go of my children was not something I could properly prepare for. I read many books and tried to plan for their departures. But, with years of practice I have learned that there’s just no way to predict what lies ahead on their unique paths, or how my heart will handle the inevitable twists and turns. That’s where God comes in.

God knows how to pull the “un” off of uncertain, and stand me upright again. His Word reminds me of his sovereign plans and great love for us all.

Pulling the car away from the airport curb this week I knew I would need to hold onto Scriptures which steady my feet on parenting’s ever shifting terrain. Maybe these words can help you or parents you know find surer footing as well.

  • “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 New Living Translation (NLT)

God has great plans for your son or daughter. He wants only what is best for them, and encourages them to move ahead toward a future full of hope. They are meant to encounter people and experiences for both learning and contribution. While they are not guaranteed a life free of pain or hardship, they are promised a steadfast companion who offers enduring peace and eternal life.

  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 English Standard Version (ESV)

Yes, these children will stumble and sometimes fall into deep, deep holes. You will watch it happen, seemingly in slow motion, and gasp as you frantically try to rescue them. The college years are especially treacherous as our children seek to discover who they are and what they believe. These gusty winds, and even hurricanes in life, do not surprise God. He is ready for the storms, and is willing and able to help your family through them. Seek him, trust him, and be incredibly patient with his timing. Keep moving along the path as best you can and pray that one day his answer will come to you.

  • “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3 (NLT)

Letting our children go in a healthy, positive way is probably the most grown-up thing God will ever ask us to do. Assuring them of your love while ushering them toward the unknown is a daunting task. Along the way of childhood days, of little league games, and dance competitions, we forget that they really won’t belong to us forever…that they never really did. They belong to God. He generously entrusts us with their care for a little while, seeking to make us faithful servants and reliable stewards of his most precious creations.

I like to visualize God as a strong, calming presence strolling along the path in front of my son. God’s gaze is set forward, watching for obstacles while his steady right hand stretches back behind him, waiting for my son to catch up. The palm of my man-boy connects with the palm of his Maker, and I just know in my heart, they can take it from here.

Prayer for the Week:

Dear God, Thank you for trusting me to guard and cherish these children as they find their way through life. Hold me steady as I walk the fine line between pulling them back and letting them go. Strengthen my faith as your plans unfold in their life. I pray for your comfort and guidance when trouble arrives. And, I praise you for all you have done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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