June 18, 2007

Letting Go

‘Tis the season for graduation. And so perhaps in the last month you have watched a child cross a stage, collect a diploma, and take a gigantic step into his future. Away from you.

A friend’s eldest daughter graduated this month and then promptly took off to counsel at Bible camp. Pam doesn’t even have the luxury of summer to ease into the idea of “losing” her daughter to college in the fall. For all intents, Liz is already gone. Just like that.

My eldest is just six so I’m a dozen years away from that exact dilemma. But a couple weeks ago I experienced a twinge of it when Rachel went on her first sleepover. Of course, I’d occasionally been apart from her overnight before, but she was always at home—with my husband if I was on a retreat or with my in-laws when we were away celebrating our anniversary. This time Rachel went away.

I am glad she has a good friend and grateful I can trust her friend’s parents with my little girl. I am thrilled she was ready for such an adventure, which was clear as she gleefully waved goodbye when they drove off. No tears. No late-night come-and-get-me phone call. I want our children to have peace and confidence as they explore the world beyond our home so this was a wonderful experience for her.

But I cried that night. Not because I feared for her safety or worried about her anxiety. I simply missed her. And I realized this was the first of many instances of letting go—of allowing and encouraging her to have experiences beyond me.

Because that—to facilitate God’s equipping of her so she can eventually go out and fulfill His purposes for her—is my job as her mom. It starts with a little sleepover and snowballs from there.

It’s not easy. You surely shed many more tears than I when your child moved the tassel across his mortarboard recently. But, if we are serious about our claim to be raising our kids for the Lord, letting go is a necessary part of the pain and joy that is parenting.


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