by: Kerri Young
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
One day last week I was outside enjoying a beautiful fall afternoon with my kids and the captain of my cheer squad who was over for our weekly leadership meeting. My middle son, now four years old, was running around playing when he tripped, fell, and busted open a scab on his knee. Seeing blood is very traumatic for him, so of course he broke into hysterics. I quickly kissed his boo-boo and got a Band-Aid, and then he just wanted me to hold him as he wept.
After holding him for a few minutes and trying to get him to calm down, my sweet boy (who is definitely the tender, feeler of my children) said through sobs, “Mommy, I love you and I don’t ever want to leave you.” My cheer captain chuckled as I said, “Oh, sweet boy, some day you will grow up and not want to be with Mommy all the time; I promise.” But this sent my weeping boy into brand new bitter tears, through which he responded something like, “No, Mommy, I want you to always be a part of my family and you will live with me forever when I grow up. I don’t ever want to not be with you!” He was so distraught it brought tears to my eyes and choked me up.
Oh, how our kids can take our breath away with the fierceness of their love and the love we feel for them! If only we could hang onto them and never have to let them go….
But, that is not how the Lord intended it. We will not be around forever on this side of life. Even if we were, our children are not our possessions to hold onto and keep forever. They are blessings the Lord has given us to watch over, train up, and prepare for what God has planned for them as long as they are in our care. Maybe it’s because we are preparing to say goodbye to our parents and move to the Middle East in May, but this has been on my mind a lot lately.
While definitely not a perfect analogy, I’ve heard it said that a child is kind of like a caterpillar and we as parents are kind of like the chrysalis.
Our job is to protect and strengthen those little caterpillars while God is transforming them into something amazing. Then, when the time is right and they are ready, our little caterpillars will take flight as beautiful butterflies. I’ve also heard it said that as parents our job is to give our kids wings so that someday they can fly. Inevitably, that flying means flying away, so we need to not only prepare our children for that reality, but we need to be prepared for that reality ourselves.
Much of parenting and child-raising is baby steps of letting go and saying goodbye. From the first time you attempt to not hyperventilate while dropping your bundle of joy off in the church nursery or painstakingly stand by and let them play in the fastfood play area alone, to the day you bravely hold their hand and fight off tears as they walk into kindergarten and then much too quickly proudly watch them march across that stage to receive their high school diploma….you are preparing to one day let them go and fly away.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned from my parents is the beautiful agony of training up children in the way they should go and bravely releasing us into the world. As we prepare to fly away in May, I can only begin to imagine the bittersweet taste the Lord’s plans for us leave in the mouths of our parents. On one hand, they have done well. They have raised us up to love Jesus and love people and be obedient to the Lord’s purpose for our lives. But on the other hand, we are now preparing to fly far, far away, leave them behind, and take their grandbabies across the world.
I praise the Lord for the godly example of my parents and their dependence on the Lord through the years as they have gradually let me go, while protecting, guiding and preparing me. It is my prayer that I will be able to walk in their footsteps as I parent my own children, and be willing to let my children obediently follow the desires the Lord places in their hearts…even if it means flying far away from home.
Someday I know my sweet boy will not want to be around me all the time, and though I dread that day, I pray when it comes I will have done all I can, with the Lord’s help, to prepare him fully for magnificent flight and fulfillment of walking in the way the Lord leads.
Father God, please help me today to be the kind of mom who trains my children up in the way they should go, fully dependent on Your Spirit at all times. In each small moment of letting go that comes, help me to trust that You hold my children in the palms of Your hands. May they rise up and live to bless, honor and glorify You in however You may lead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Chrysalis Picture from http://www.ngcner.org/Monarch-Butterfly.php