Ironically as I’m writing this today my heart is being held together by a strand of twine as I’m just days away from packing up our last son to head to college.
I’ve learned the deepest message of our own heart has a way of ministering in its’ rawest state…
So, if you’d give me the honor of talking openly with you for a few minutes pull up a comfy chair and scoot in for an open conversation with me about the transition so many of us are in the middle of right now.
It’s been 27 years of raising these boys, knowing far ahead in the distance one day I would release them into their own lives. But so many times when this reality crossed my path somehow the truth of it got lost in the gathering of school supplies and pulling wads of cash out, emptying jars of change to pay for all of their activities. I may have been choosing denial or was truly in a state of feeling overwhelmed when it slipped my mind and was pushed aside to process at a later date. Each time we let go of one of our three older sons there was always another one at home that needed my attention, so my grief would often get distracted and swallowed up in our busyness.
And forget the trying task of keeping close to the ones who were far away living out the call placed upon them.
And here we are now just days away from packing up the last one and driving him to college, hugging his neck and telling him all the last reminders we have a way of passing out hoping we’ve said and done it all.
If we’re honest so much of parenting can be fueled by fear….It’s what has us hanging on tight and not wanting to let go of the reins at times.
We spend so many days protecting our kids that we can forget to prepare them for their departure.
I remember the years of having young sons and their infatuation with weapons particularly a couple of them who loved bows and arrows. They felt powerful and like a courageous warrior gripping their bows and launching their arrows at targets. Their love for this grew into an even greater love for other weapons in particularly nerf guns. Nerf wars were one of my favorite memories. The boys could launch those bullets into every corner of our house. The one rule I had was they had to pick them all up at the end of their wars. The funny thing was no matter how hard they worked to do that, there were always bullets I’d find for months. It’s still this way in my house even though my youngest is getting ready to begin his first year at college. Please forgive me as I was thinking about this illustration my mind got sidetracked to the overflowing tubs of nerf guns that we will soon be loading up with all of our youngest son’s college stuff. I’m not sure how they will assist him in the weeks and months ahead in fact dorm parents I’m sorry for any trouble this causes in your dorm! I’m awaiting my first call….No but in all seriousness just as there were days even though they’re quite faint in my memory when I had to cock their guns for them, load their bows so they could use them. Whereas now they’re the ones cocking my guns for me and pulling back the string on the bow so I can launch an arrow.
In Psalm 127.4 it tells us our children are like arrows, what a beautiful metaphor this is for us as parents.
‘Children born to a young man,
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.’
A warrior never holds on to their arrows but rather when the right time arrives they must release them, for arrows were created to fly!
Everything about them down to their intricate design was fashioned to soar.
As is, with our children they were given to us to send out.
Sisters believe me I know this is hard stuff!
It’s not an easy process as we love our kids and we naturally want to keep them inside the rooms of our homes.
But just as arrows were not designed to remain in a quiver neither were our sons & daughters created to stay home forever.
Missional Parenting speaks a different language than the message of our hearts.
Although many of us want to raise our kids to ‘need’ us because it somehow communicates our importance in their lives.
We look at their need for us as an expression of their ‘love’ but this isn’t what God intended for them.
When we choose to raise our kids knowing one day we will send them out for God we prepare and raise them to carry out their callings and the furthering of the gospel.
This doesn’t mean we won’t have tears and sadness in the process as we grieve through our losses but it gives our tears purpose as we’re able to see firsthand the beauty of our labor.
‘Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.’ Psalm 126.5
We will have tears sweet Mommas but God will redeem them into songs of joy as we watch Him ever so faithfully work in the lives of our children.
Maybe you’ve been experiencing the days and weeks leading up to the release of your sons and daughters involving some strain and tension in your homes, I know I have.
For a time I wondered if this was something that was unique to our family yet as I spoke with several friends I learned it was happening in their homes too.
It can be a hurtful season if you let your heart get too involved in their process of leaving and transitioning into independence.
You see they’re needing to peel away from some of their dependency on us to survive the days ahead. Us Momma’s can sometimes wonder how they’ll ever survive without us but I can assure you after releasing three other sons and leading many college students through this process they find their dependency deeper on God in these days.
What I’ve found at the heart of this process for myself is
‘do I trust God with the life of my child?’.
Having the pleasure of watching God navigate each of my sons along the way has reminded me inside these days to lean upon Him more and more and it teaches my son to lean on Him as well….In these sacred moments our kiddos see God is more than enough for us as they witness evidences of our faith being real and tangible!
Gregg Harris says it like this as he likens this process to arrows:
‘When you aim the arrow and release the arrow, beware–the greatest tension in your
relationship with your children will often be just before you release them.
Because it feels to the arrow like it’s going backwards when it wants to go forward.
The tension is building in the bow, the warrior is aiming, and then there’s the release.
From that point on, the guidance system that is in the arrow itself is what keeps it on track.’
Did you read that last part?
The ‘guidance system that is in the arrow’ keeps it on track, not us!
As our children leave we’re released as God becomes their primary guidance system. We can’t choose this for our children, it’s now their choice…yes, this can be a scary place to leave our children it’s here in this holy crevace where we must entrust them solely to God!
A good reminder to hold onto:
God will never call us to something that He won’t give us what we need to accomplish it and He never sends us, nor our children out without going with us!
Perhaps we feel there’s more work to do within our child’s heart or feel as if we’re sending them out a bit undone.
that God will finish what He first began through us in the lives of our children, He will complete what He first began.
This beautiful blessing that we have been tasked with is a road that He will continue to travel with us on and with our children. We aren’t finished as parents our role just transitions into a new phase and finding beauty in this season is the beginning of our releasing of them.
The conclusion of this season for us of having our beds full of boys is ending but I’m holding onto the beautiful beginning it is for our son, whose life is aimed toward the exciting future God prepared long ago in advance for Him to do.
His heart’s steadiness is greatly affected by where I place my trust, my hope and my identity these days… sisters I’m choosing to place them in God alone.
When we see our parenting as a gift from God to live out, a mission of our own sort we see our children’s lives not as ones we hoard for the feeding of our own identity but as lives God created and graciously gifted us to share with the furthering of His kingdom.
It’s our natural selves that want to hold onto them but when we love them like God loved His son we are able to offer them as a sacrifice for His glory and have the greatest pleasure of watching them live out their God-given purpose!
So brave Mommas let’s get our bows ready for the days ahead and allow God to give us the strength and courage to pull back and release our children to soar into what God has prepared for them out there.
They truly fly when we let go of them and allow them to take off as they were made to do!