by Jennifer Duncan
From the time our sons were babies, it seemed to me that we were experiencing a continuous string of times when we had to “let go.” Since I don’t much like change…this was bothersome to me. It was a little hard to thrust my whole self into celebrations of the milestones. I knew that when my babies rolled over, sat up, crawled and walked…they were gradually becoming more independent of me. And even though I was a reluctant cheerleader for these events, I felt a little sad inside.
There was no holding my boys back, though! They were incredibly independent…maybe to counter my impulse to grab them up and keep them close! They loved becoming more and more free of my solicitous supervision.
So, as you can imagine, I was the only one crying on the first day of kindergarten. As we trudged bravely into that big building, I was the one barely holding it together. Oh, I didn’t break down in front of them, because they were already easily embarrassed by my attention. But, oh yes…cry I did…most of the day!
No one seemed to get the point that MY kindergarteners were special. Maybe all those other kids were ready to be thrust out into the great big world, but surely, mine were not. Surely they weren’t old enough (though their birthdays made them some of the oldest in the class). The first five years had gone by in a flash! And now they were facing the unknown, armed only with nap mats and Superhero lunch boxes. How could one teacher possibly give them the attention they needed with 18 other kindergarteners in the room? Maybe, just maybe…I needed to go sit beside them for the first few days….
Fast forward 12 years and dozens more wrenching episodes of “letting go.” (They wanted me to drop them off at baseball practice instead of being one of the coaches! They actually expected to go to church camp without me. And unbelievable as it may seem, at sixteen, they thought they should drive, alone!) And now, it was graduation time. They really were going to put on that cap and gown, and celebrate the final, most daunting launch into the unknown.
On the day we took the second (last!) one to college, I wasn’t the only one who shed a few tears. Our son held it together admirably, with a convincing, “Mom, I got this” attitude. But Dad and I did cry a little…especially when it came time to go to bed in our empty house. Because, there were routines that didn’t happen that night, for the first time in a very long time. We looked into their rooms, though I don’t know what we were looking for. And my husband locked all the doors, though one of the boys had been the “door checker” for many years. We lay down beside each other…and said, “Okay, so here we are. I’m glad we still like each other, because it’s just you and me.”
The next day, as I read my Bible in the quiet (oh…so quiet!) morning, I was praying about our sons and their new college adventure. I said, “Lord, for eighteen years, I have been with these boys every day. I’ve been there to teach them and guide them, and help them interpret the world and its challenges. Who is going to teach them now?” And the moment that followed reminded me of another time, eighteen years earlier, when God had first given me the promise that I would become a mother.
The promise now, on “empty-nest-day-one” was in Isaiah 54:13. The verse, speaking straight to my aching heart, said this: “And all your children will be taught of the Lord, and their well-being will be very great.”
Now remember, my question to God was, “Who will teach them now?” And He clearly answered, “I. will.”
It feels okay to “let go” when you know that Someone Greater is taking over. I should have known that all along. I should have known that it was God who sat with them during their first day of kindergarten, and every day thereafter. I should have known that from the moment of their birth, He was the Teacher and not I. And I did know, in later days, when they wisely chose wonderful, godly girls to marry, and when they became remarkably wonderful fathers…that it was God who was guiding them. I had learned in a new way, that it would always be safe to “let them go” into His loving and capable hands.
Jennifer is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is mom to two grown (twin) sons, two wonderful daughters-in-law and four granddaughters. Her late husband, John, pastored two churches in Barry County, Missouri, and one in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Jennifer serves in teaching, music and lay counseling through her church, Arnhart Baptist Church, Purdy, Missouri. She also enjoys leading retreats and Bible studies for women.