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.