As we travel life’s path, we all manage to lose a few things… like special trinkets, and perhaps a few friends from another time and another place as life moves on. We even lose our patience a few more times than we care to admit. Though losing something special can be painful, it’s different from giving it away… releasing that treasure on our own is a whole other story, a gift of love. In this season of graduations, my thoughts began to travel in the direction of releasing our treasured youth with love.
Letting go of what we hold dear can be difficult, perhaps even bittersweet, yet the release can leave us with a warm glow in our heart. It’s a process that takes time. As Corrie ten Boom, one of my favorite authors and evangelists, once said, “I have learned to hold all things loosely, so God will not have to pry them out of my hands.” Like a mother hen, we lovingly protect and keep our little ones safe as they grow, trying to impart some of our hard-earned wisdom over time before letting them take off on their own. After all, we truly want the best for them!
But, as our little ones grow up, they mature with a wisdom found only by taking some of life’s most difficult steps. Learning to walk, falling down is a frequent occurrence as they learn how to get back up and try again. Then, as they continue to grow and mature, they also benefit by failing a few more times, continuing to learn how to try again. At times, though, I was over protective of my children, a hover-mother, not wanting them to face some of the difficulties I had… not my best parenting idea. I loved my children and wanted to be involved in every aspect of their little lives, encouraging them to be all they could be.
We all know parenting has its challenges, and every so often I’d say, “It’s hard to raise a mother!” Raising our children was a joint learning venture, especially since they managed to arrive without an individualized instruction manual in hand! Knowing I definitely do not hold a degree in the wisdom of parenting, God blessed me with on-the-job training in His wisdom like other parents since time began.
And now we have the pleasure of watching our children raise their children. Hearing their stories holds extra-special meaning, like when our daughter, Emily, was trying to put her middle son down for a nap. He had every excuse in the book as he fussed around. Finally, she let him know how frustrated she was getting with him. Patting her arm, 3-year-old Sam gently said, “It’s ok, Mom. You’ll get used to it!” And Em had to tuck her face into his blanket so he wouldn’t see her laughing. There’s more wisdom in those words than little Sam could have ever known! For out of the mouths of babes comes wisdom sweet.
Should we hold too tightly to our children and their childhood, we may not allow them the freedom they need to grow with life’s changes. They may not become the well-adjusted mature adults they are meant to be. And, if we fail to help them discipline their own actions, they won’t know the rewards of self-control. As Solomon wisely wrote, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Each child is a unique individual, a most precious gift from God to be treasured and loved as we guide them in starting their journey of life.
I remember graduating from sixth grade at a small private elementary Christian school, moving on to one of two city junior highs in Clifton, NJ. It was quite the culture shock to go from about a dozen students per grade to between 300 to 400 students per grade! But I never forgot my father's wise words. Having been taught to live a life with God in our heart and at our side, he said it was now time to live out our faith in a larger venue out in the world.
My friend, Mimi, who passed away unexpectedly recently, once shared a quote with me from her stitchery – “There are two lasting gifts we can give to our children – one is roots, the other is wings.”* How true! May we love our children enough to provide them with the deep roots of a sturdy foundation, laughing and crying alongside them, while giving them wings and freedom to fly out into the great big world on their own with God at their side.
As we celebrate the recent and upcoming graduations of our children, whether from kindergarten, high school or college, we praise them for all their hard work and accomplishments. We think back to their days of learning, thanking God for the unique gifts within that He blessed each of them with, and their discovery of how best to use such treasures. And may we learn the gift of releasing with love, allowing us all to see the beauty deep within their heart.
Releasing With Love
Linda A. Roorda
Along life’s journey we lose a few things
Like fancy trinkets and friends of the heart
Even some time, and patience, too
All that holds meaning through our hands will slip.
Losing possessions with meaning attached
Shows how futile to retain our grip
As respected wisdom gives true perspective
That where grace abounds we hold but loosely.
When losing our self for a greater good
We follow a path of godly wisdom
And in giving thought to what holds our heart
Is found the key essential to life.
For the years of youth build up to the time
When wisdom is gained and freedom earned,
We’ve gently led and helped them know
It’s time to fly on wings of their own.
By clutching firmly life’s fleeting passage
We cannot grasp the beauty within
For in the act of releasing with love
We’ll come to treasure each moment’s sweet gift.
* Words similar to those used by Hodding Carter: 1953, Where Main Street Meets the River by Hodding Carter, Chapter 27: It’s How We like It, Quote Page 337, Published by Rinehart & Company, New York.