Letting Go All Over Again
It’s been 22 years since I carefully packed and sealed the large cardboard box. I remember glancing one last time at its contents, closing it, and wondering when the day would come that I would see inside again. God had moved us six times in those 22 years. Each time, my box filled with precious cargo would travel with us, and I would make sure that it stayed safe. Movers carried it from attic to attic, or basement to basement. It took a bump or two and the label on it faded, but for the most part, today, as it sits before me on the dining room table, it is intact. My carefully laid plans to preserve it have been accomplished and I’m relieved, because today is a very important day.
My first born, my son, and his wife are about to bring our first grandchild into this world…a boy…like him. This little one decided to surprise both his parents and the rest of us with an unexpected pregnancy just a few weeks before they were to move to East Asia to be missionaries. Making preparations with visas, passports, and finding a new home overseas hadn’t included planning for a little one on the way. But they were confident in God’s plan for both their lives as well as an exciting plan for this little guy’s life; and the timing, one day, would become clear.
My son and daughter-in-law made the decision to come back to the US for the baby to be born. The excitement of the entire family was beginning to build as they made the trek back to their homeland, expectant belly and all. The day finally arrived for us to welcome them home and begin the count down for the baby’s arrival.
This also meant it was time for me to open the precious box I had packed so many years before. My box held hand-made and heirloom baby clothes that my own children had worn. It was time to find the perfect outfit for my son’s little one. I’d dreamed about this day for 22 years. My anticipation of this moment was clear: we would open the special box, pick the perfect outfit, and I would get to watch my grandson wear the family heirloom that we had selected especially for him.
Dusting off the top of the box, I removed the seal, and all of a sudden grandmotherhood began for me. With every sheet of tissue paper I pulled out, a memory came out as well. So many moments that seemed like only yesterday played out with each of the eight pieces I had saved. Then it hit me. Whichever little piece I chose for this new baby would almost instantly be re-packed and moved back to East Asia. No! It couldn’t be. I couldn’t send this important piece of clothing to East Asia! It was meant to be safe in America. This was where it belonged. Emotions welled up, and I turned my back on the pile of clothes. I had to take a moment, so I got in the shower, and you know what we moms do in the shower—we let it all out. As I felt the tears of gratitude mixed with a little sadness, I also felt the strong feeling that this was right. We had given our son, as we had done with all of our children, to God. They were not ours to raise without His guidance, and they were never ours to keep. They were His and His plans for them were far better than we could ever dream or imagine. Just as Hannah offered up her son Samuel to serve the Lord, this was the desire of my heart as well. But as they say, that was much easier said than done.
By the end of my therapy shower I had made up my mind. My decision was intentional, but not easy. The tiny white button-on suit with French lace around the collar was the one. I was ready to let it go, both from my box and my heart. Our grandson would wear this outfit from his Nanna with love as he toddled around the sidewalks of East Asia. I was so thankful for my son’s life choices and even thankful that his passions had taken him halfway around the world. He was using his God-given gifts to make a difference and his little guy would be a part of that story, God’s redemptive story for the world.
The time had come once again to let go…like we had done so many times before. And by the grace of God, He would once again provide strength in the midst of our weakness.
We try to take such good care of our kids physically, spiritually, and emotionally. We protect them from harm. We teach them about God and His Word. We prepare them, as best we can, for what lies ahead. We nurture and transition with them. But what’s it all for? It’s not to keep them close and safe, but it’s to prepare them to go out and live their own lives: to explore, to have adventures, and to create new stories. But most of all, my heart’s desire for my children and their children is for them to be prepared to offer the hope that they have in Jesus to the world. We, in turn, leave our mark on the world by preparing our children to leave their mark on the world, and then their children will do the same. God created each of us to reproduce, both physically and spiritually. What a joy to see the ripple effect of our children’s impact on the world through their gifts. I have no greater joy!
If you have given your children to the Lord then . . .
1. Seek out and pray God’s desires for your children above your own.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
2. You can trust God’s will and way for your children. His timing and orchestration in their lives are perfect. Look to Him to work in their lives.
"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
3. Always encourage your kids as you point them back to God for His direction in their lives.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
4. Continue to share the gospel with your children, no matter their age. Remind them of our brokenness, God’s grace, and our great need for a Savior every moment of every day.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
5. Pray for God’s strength to release your control and trust Him in the lives of your children. This will allow them freedom in Christ as they relate to you.
“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
And if you haven’t given your children to God in your heart, there’s no better time than now. They’re His anyway.
Lord willing, a little American toddler will leave his mark and make his own impact on East Asia. He will be cherished and protected by his mom and dad and wearing a French laced, hand sewn, button-on suit.
Anna Nash is the Founder and Director of Beacon People, and is the author of pathFinder, A Journey Towards Purpose. She resides in Birmingham, Alabama, and is married to her high school sweetheart, Tyler. They have four grown children, one grandson, and a Labradoodle named Nate.