From the very first moment those little eyes open and we hear them cry for the first time, we love our children. Yes, there are moments that we may get exasperated and frustrated, but we can’t help it—everything about us is conditioned to care for them and love them and protect them. It is, quite frankly, part of our DNA.
We are mothers.
Unfortunately, we also have to live with the constant reminder that they are pulling away from us. The second they take that first step they are becoming independent. Now, most of us are pretty happy when that happens. We like the little freedoms that are promised to our child-centered lives that maybe one day, we will be able to go to the bathroom by ourselves.
What we don’t like, however, and what we will do anything and everything to prevent is for harm to come to those little doughy wonders. Mamas are mamas everywhere—we become bears when it comes to protecting our cubs. We have dreams for them, dreams of happiness and prosperity and safety. We pray for their futures constantly, and we trust that if we can just protect them long enough, showing them the way they should go, then all will be well. They will be successful, happy, and joyous humans on this planet. There is a large part of every mother that believes down deep in her soul that if she can just get them there—to adulthood—then God will do the rest and usher them into their beautiful destinies.
So, what do we do when that doesn’t seem to be happening? What do we mothers do when our children grow up and make bad decisions or enter hard times or suffer in ways we can’t control? What do we do when it seems that God’s promises for them aren’t panning out?
That’s when God is calling us to let go. We have to loosen our iron maiden grips on their lives and allow them to fall, to fail, to suffer, and to hurt. And very few things are harder for mothers to do than that.
Like many other moms, I’ve had to endure this very thing with my boys, which is the reason I wrote my new book, We are Mother Abraham. It features two parallel stories—a modern day mother dealing with letting her daughter go and Sarah as she dealt with letting Isaac go. While dealing with many, many issues we face in this journey, I found that there were four main truths that came out for each of us to hang onto during these very difficult times:
#1. It’s going to be hard.
I understand that this doesn’t seem to be so wonderful on the surface, but knowing that it was hard for a reason brought me great comfort in the middle of letting my boys go. The truth is that it is hard for a reason. We were literally created to do the opposite of what God calls us to do in these times. We were created, as mothers, to do absolutely everything for these children.
The human baby is the most helpless baby of all other babies in the animal kingdom. God created human mothers to do every single thing that infant needs to both give it life and then sustain that life once it’s born. We are hard wired to keep them safe. There is no amount of understating the difficulty in actually denying one’s created nature in order to allow something opposite to occur. That is especially true when we are asked to allow pain and hardship come to our children. My nature tells me to help. My God tells me to get out of the way.
I read a story about a man who came across a butterfly cocoon. The butterfly was just trying to break free of the cocoon, and the man felt compassion on the small creature. He took his thumb and just peeled away a small portion so that the butterfly quickly emerged. The man immediately noticed that the butterfly looked abnormal. Instead of having big, beautiful wings that look it to flight, the insect had small, misshapen wings, and it stumbled around on the ground, seemingly unable to fly.
You see, when that man followed his compassionate heart and helped the butterfly avoid its struggle, he stopped the necessary process the insect needed to grow. The butterfly was created so that when it struggled in its cocoon for freedom, vital, life-giving blood is forced through its undeveloped wings so that it can grow and become strong. Without that struggle, the butterfly will emerge crippled and unable to fly, a ready and vulnerable meal to any bird that flies by.
God tells us over and over that we need those struggles, just like the butterfly, so that we can become all that He has for us to be.
Letting that happen is hard, but it’s hard for a reason.
#2. Thank heavens there is a training ground!
Our children are moving toward independence very shortly after they are born. They are literally drawn toward this independence. Their entire nature moves inexorably toward a place where they can move and be on their own. However, they certainly don’t wake up one day as a twenty-one-year-old who has never done one single thing on their own and say, “That’s it, Mom! I’m now independent of you!” They do it gradually, small milestone by small milestone.
The thing is, these are milestones for us, too. God is so loving in that He knows exactly how He created us, and He knows exactly how hard it will be for us to watch them move into their own destinies, some of which will require pain. Instead of making us tear that terrible Band Aid off, He allows us to do it a step at a time, each step increasing in difficulty. It’s harder to watch them go to Kindergarten than to take their first step. It’s harder to let to them go for a sleep over or go to camp than it was to send them to school for the first time. It’s harder still to watch them get cut from the soccer team or get rejected by some girls at school. Then comes the driving and the jobs and the friends, and harder and harder it gets.
These times are our training ground, and I’m thankful for them.
#3. You’re not alone.
Look around, sisters. We’re all right there with you. Mothers everywhere are dealing with this pain at one level or another, so you aren’t alone.
But look even further. Mothers through time have had to do this, and we can read about them in the bible. Hannah had to let her promised boy, Samuel, go as soon as he was weaned because she had promised him to God, Sarah had to let Abraham take Isaac to Mount Moriah with the intention of actually killing him, and Mary quite literally watched her precious son, Jesus, suffer the worst death imaginable while she was powerless to stop it.
The thing that all of these women have in common, both with each other and with us, is that this “letting go” was letting go to God, to His purposes and promises in their children’s lives. God hadn’t forgotten them or turned His back on them. He was fulfilling that which He promised, but these mothers had to let go so that His perfect purposes could be accomplished. It’s exactly the same for our children.
God has a destiny for each of them. He has a plan for them, and He has a plan to use them. When we hang onto them with the intentions of protecting them from the pain they are enduring, we are inhibiting the growth that comes only through that pain. We are standing in the way of the beautiful testimonies being born, world-changing work that will come, and fulfillment that only God can bring to our children’s lives.
No, we’re not alone in these times, but neither are our children.
#4. And finally, remember that you are highly favored.
When I was struggling with these truths as I watched my boys fall and fail and hurt, God reminded me time and time again that mothers are highly favored.
You may wonder at the logic of that, especially when your heart is breaking as it looks like you’re losing them. But God reminded me that He entrusted these people with us. He didn’t do that accidentally. My boys are my boys on purpose. God chose me to birth them, to nurture them, to love them, and to keep them safe. He created me with a nature that does that almost automatically. He did the same for you.
But then He does something quite astounding. Not only does He trust us with caring for them, but He trusts that when the time comes, we will be strong enough to deny our created natures and give them back to Him. God has made us His trusted stewards, but He gave us an almost super-human strength of will that He only gives to mothers, a will that enables us to actually let go of the things we were created to hang onto with all of our might—His children.
We are highly favored, and we are supremely loved. God’s heart is for His mothers. He is knit to us through this sacrifice, and we honor Him each and every time we allow Him to be God in the lives of our children.
Letting go of our children is definitely hard, both in the doing and in the training, and there’s comfort in knowing that we’re not alone. We have God and we have each other. But most importantly, in the middle of the entire heartbreaking, daunting task, we must look up and remember that we are truly favored and loved by the Creator of the universe. He is highly honored in us as we honor Him through this task. It is, indeed, a high calling, but it is a beautiful one.
Because yes, we are mothers.
To Purchase We are Mother Abraham and download the Bible study that goes along with it, visit www.DebWaterbury.com