Letting Go: Parenting

Being a parent is funny. I don’t mean funny as in “ha ha”, I mean funny as in weird. Of course, it does have loads of ha-ha moments as well! I think parenting is weird because we focus so much energy in holding our children tightly to keep them safe, that it is nearly crushing when we realize we really have to let them go.

This week I put my teen daughter on a plane headed across the country. She’s with a small group of peers who are all involved in musical theater and they are headed for a whirlwind adventure in the Big Apple. My daughter has never gone on a trip like this without a parent. She’s never had to be fully in charge of money. She’s never had to be fully in charge of when and what she eats. She’s experiencing a whole new level of freedom and choice and she doesn’t have to share any of it with me. 

As someone prone to anxiety, letting her go and loosening my grip is terrifying. I think letting go is probably unnerving to all, or at least most, parents. Some parents choose not to allow increments of letting go, they dive head first into the deep end when their child turns 18 years old and abruptly walks out the door. Or on the flip, they wonder why their child is 30 years old still living at home afraid to launch. Some parents choose to never hold their children as children, never hold too tightly. These parents never have a good connection with their kids so whether they stay or go becomes irrelevant because the parents are doing their own thing all along. I’m trying to parent somewhere in the middle where I’m educating as I can, while still providing some safety and cushion for my child. All the while, trying not to lose myself and my identity into her.

So as I sit here today on day two of six of letting go, I’m having to face my self and my Savior. I’m horrible at self care, I just don’t do it well at all. I wrap most of my life around work and my daughter’s schedule. Running between home and job and theater, I’m exhausted by the time I get home. I used to spend hours each morning in time with God, now I spend about 30-minutes and even that isn’t every day. I pray throughout the day and I listen to praise music, but I don’t spend as much time in study and listening. It’s time to get God back central in my life.

I have been losing focus in the past couple years on my dreams and my calling. If God has a call on my life AND a call on her life, there must be a way for both of us to walk in His way. More letting go. More letting go of me planning and more empowering her to plan. More letting go of me plotting the next step and more equipping her to research. More removal of me as Conductor and more reliance on Him for us both. You see, I can’t set my daughter up to believe that her safety and her identity is found in me. It’s not! I can’t bear that pressure and honestly, she can’t afford for me to try. I have to show her what faith in God looks like, what listening for His voice sounds like and what stepping out in His call feels like so that she sees how God leads her. Oh, I’m still needed to help shape, I’m just not the architect, God is.

The beautiful thing about this week is that it is a gift for us both. She gets to see the world of musical theater in the city that doesn’t sleep. She gets to feel more of God’s tug on her heart and see more of the dreams He has placed in her. And, I get to do the same. I get to focus on self and Savior. I get to let go of anxiety and feel the peace that is beyond understanding and is perfect. I get to listen again to where God is calling me and ask Him to stir my heart more. I get to hold my daughter a little more loosely which gives me margin to hold Him a little more tightly. I get to step down from a place of control and step into a place of freedom. 

What are you holding on to tightly that you need God to help you let go of? Letting go doesn’t mean the person or item leaves your life, it just means you experience more freedom and less anxiety. Anxiety is sometimes a symptom of a controlling personality and it’s a trigger that there is opportunity for you to increase your faith. God will never leave you or forsake you, trust Him. He has a plan for your life that is better than your plan, trust Him. 

Let go so that you can experience freedom. Ask God to show you where you are holding your children too tightly so that He can free you AND them. He will show you and He will lead you. 

Shalom,

KA

Advertisements

Firm Faith


Faith is tricky. By definition, faith doesn’t make sense. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. It doesn’t make sense to put your faith, your security, your trust in something or someone whom you cannot see and that you only hope is there. And yet, faith is the currency of heaven. Faith is what makes your life firm.

As I get older, I appreciate the disciple Thomas more and more. Here’s a guy who traveled with Jesus daily and knew Him well. Thomas saw the miracles and heard the teachings straight from Jesus. He was an eye witness and yet, when faced with the opportunity to have faith, Thomas couldn’t muster it up. 

Picture this: It’s been a wild weekend for Thomas and the other followers of Jesus. They are terrified and in crisis. Jesus has been killed and they have every reason to believe they are on the executioners list as well. Everyone is gathered together and I’m sure that the slightest noise makes the room jump. The windows are shut tight and the door bolted shut. No one is coming in or going out and no one has for three days. The fear was palpable.

Then Jesus shows up. Wait, what? Jesus is dead! The door hasn’t been opened! No window is cracked and yet, Jesus appears in the midst of the huddled group living in terror and confusion. He just appears with them and they are dumbfounded I have no doubt. He speaks peace over them and they are forever changed. Our dear Thomas, however, has been off hiding somewhere else and he doesn’t have this encounter as the other disciples do.

Can you imagine how Thomas felt when he comes home and his friends tell them what has happened? Here they have had this amazing encounter with the crucified and resurrected Christ and he missed it. Common sense takes control and Thomas refuses to believe their story. Common sense says it isn’t possible that Jesus is alive. Common sense is the enemy of faith. Thomas declares that until he is actually able to touch the scars of Jesus, he will never believe He is back.

Several days later, Thomas and the gang are still locked up in the room, uncertain of their future. Going out into the town is still believed risky as the talk of Jesus’ body missing, possibly stolen or possibly resurrected, is I’m sure the top news story of the week. Jesus, in His amazing power, again just shows up in the midst of the fear. This time our dear Thomas is in the room and he sees his Friend, his Savior for the first time since His death. 

Jesus has a couple options here when He sees Thomas. He could chastise Thomas for not believing the others when they had said they saw Jesus. He could make Thomas feel ashamed about not trusting. As He always does, Jesus chooses to love and not to shame him. Jesus knows Thomas is having a crisis of faith so without hesitation, He shows Thomas exactly what he needs in order to have faith, His scars. Thomas, I’m sure, falls apart. He then declares his belief in what he has hoped for, he declares his faith.

Aren’t we all so much like Thomas? Faith requires that you believe the impossible is possible, and that often goes against what many call common sense. That there is nothing God can’t do. Nothing! That not only can God save you from an eternity without Him, He can also provide for all of your needs, all of your healing, all of your love. Without faith, you have no footing. 

If you are not firm in your faith, when storms come you get bashed about. Fear, doubt, negativism all reign when we don’t stand firm in faith. Faith is hard. Faith is mocked. Faith is a choice, not a feeling. When we choose to believe God can heal when the doctors say it is hopeless, we choose faith. When we choose to believe that our wayward child will return home, we choose faith. When we choose to believe that our marriage can be saved, we choose faith. Faith is what makes our lives able to be lived without falling apart. Faith makes us firm in God.

Faith isn’t a magic potion though. Faith doesn’t mean things will work out just like we want them to. Faith simply means that we are trusting the One who orchestrates it all and loves us more than we can imagine. Faith is believing that God is with us and empowering us to face the challenge ahead knowing that He is in control. Faith is firmness.

Shalom,

KA

God’s Image is Love

I sat at a summertime street fair yesterday and I watched hundreds of people walking around, listening to music, eating good food and laughing. There was a lightness and joy in the air as strangers said hello to each other and bonded over some cute dog in a backpack. I was struck by how truly easy it is to drop walls when the setting is just right. I was loving the community atmosphere everyone was creating. 

I was overcome with awe at just how diverse people are physically. Clothing. Hair. Skin. Number of limbs. Inability to walk. Dog owners. American. Not American. Age. This small community gathering covered the spectrum of differences and those were only the differences I could see! No hate, at least not outwardly. People were free to move about and enjoy the moment. 

And then I got home to hear about the exact opposite atmosphere happening in Virginia. The same opportunity for community and love turned into destruction and hate. A group of people covering the spectrum of differences, hell bent and hell driven on destruction. No joy. No freedom. Only violence and evil.

So, here’s my question: what about us is made in the image of God? Can’t be skin tone, there are too many shades. Can’t be body type, there are too many variations. Can’t be ethnicity, there are too many countries. Can’t be religious beliefs, there are too many cultures.

I believe we are made in the image of God made manifest in our capacity to love. If God is love (1 John 4:8) then we are love because we are made in His image and likeness. Love brings light to darkness and the only thing darkness knows to do is lash out in evil. Darkness can never drown out the light, but it sure tries. Darkness is hell on earth and it is all about tearing down and ripping apart. We have to fight to love when darkness has run amuck like it did this weekend.

Fight to love. Fight for love! As we move into yet another day where someone like me, a white woman in the Pacific Northwest, is trying to figure out how to make a difference on a larger scale, we have to fight for love in small ways. Love the people around you regardless of the differences. And by the way, stop calling out the differences. Love doesn’t come with a caveat. When darkness knocks on your door, greet it with love and justice. (Guess what, justice IS an act of love.)

Let’s live out Micah 6:8: act justly, seek kindness, walk humbly. Differences don’t inherently have to divide, they can add. 

Love doesn’t have a caveat.

Shalom,

KA