Yesterday my son left for a week long mission’s trip. Although I was excited he wanted to go on this trip and I know deep down he is ready, I’m not sure I am. Waiting for the text that they made it safely to their destination felt like forever. His sleeping arrangements look somewhat like a prison and severe storms are heading to his area today. I’ve read the brain isn’t fully developed until a person is 25. Maybe this is too early for him to go away with a bunch of his high school peers and youth leaders (many of whom are barely 25 themselves).
In the book, “Give them Wings,” there is a quote from a mom who understands my trepidation. “For many mothers do believe that their actual bodily presence stands between their children and all harm. Like many mothers, I saw myself – and in some ways see myself still – as their guardian angel, their shield of invulnerability.” Letting Casey go to overnight basketball camp, a mission’s trip and soon letting Hannah go to college is depressing, uncomfortable and frightening. How am I supposed to negotiate the inevitable reality that we are to raise our kids to leave us when I never want them to stray from my side and become what I perceive as “vulnerable?”
In the same book the author shares an interesting story that is fortunately helping me better understand the necessity and gift of letting my kids go. She tells about the time her son called from college to tell her he was going to climb Mt. Hood with some friends (who I bet also had undeveloped brains). When she begins to freak out her son says something profound that really made me think. “Mom,” he said quietly. “I need you to not be afraid…because that makes me feel afraid.” I have prayed for years my kids would be confident and trust they can do all things thru Christ. I have prayed they would not battle anxiety and panic attacks like I did. But I realized this week that the whole time I was praying those prayers, I was simultaneously passing on my unfounded fears in my attempts to be a false shield of invulnerability.
So what now? Will I choose in the next few years as I release my kids to accept in faith that God has not given them or me a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)? Can I bypass my own selfish desire to protect, hold on and control so that my children can live the life He has planned for them? Can I give my kids the gift not only of letting them go, but doing so with God’s peace, strength and comfort so they can do life with a Christly confidence knowing He has equipped them for every good work? Can I trust God with their semi-formed brains, impaired decision making and my own fears? In other words, can I have faith?
“Dear Lord, thank you stretching my faith and continually teaching me how to parent. I know you will be with my boy this week and I know you will get me through gradually letting all of them go. Thank you that this hard job always causes me to rely more heavily on you and that closer to you is where I need and want to be. Please protect my kids until and after their brains develop and thank you for helping us through all of it. In Your Name, Amen.”