Letting Go

God gives us many opportunities to let go of those things or people that we try to control, to cling to.  He wants us to let go of what we try to hold on to.  Every time we can let something or someone go, we have yet another opportunity to trust that God is in control.  The things or people that God gives us to were never meant to be ours.  They are gifts from Him.  They were always His.  They are always His.

A week ago today I learned that my oldest son would be moving into an apartment with some friends of his.  I knew this time would come.  He is 19.  When I was 19 I was living on my own as well.  But, as a parent, it doesn’t make it any easier when it actually happens.  I have been trying to get use to the idea of him no longer living here for the past week.  I’ve had difficult moments, like when he texted me while I was getting my hair done and I just lost it.  My poor hairdresser had to help me wipe away my tears!  I know that God has been preparing me for this, in baby steps.  My son works full time and because his hours are the complete opposite of when I work, I don’t see him much during the week as it is.  But, every morning, I see his car in the driveway and I know my baby is safe.  I think this will be the hardest part of him no longer living here.  I won’t know that he is safe.  For me, it seems that this is the final step in letting your child go.  Right now, I don’t know what is really going on with my son socially.  I don’t know where he goes before work or after work.  I usually don’t know how his days are going.  But up until now, I’ve always known he was safe.  I’ve always known he was home.  Now, I won’t even know that.

I have heard God whisper to my heart, telling me that I need to completely give my son to Him.  I need to let go and trust that God will take care of Him.  Does a mother ever completely let go of her children?  No, not completely.  My son will always be in my heart and always in my prayers.  But the worry and fear and control I want to cling to for my son–that is what I need to let go of.  That is where I need to trust.  

This is what I have been wrestling with this week.  This morning I got to spend a little bit of time with my son.  We got to talk and catch up and laugh, as we always do.  As he said goodbye and left for work, I opened my daily devotional to read today’s devotion.  And this is what it said:

Entrust your loved ones to me; release them into my protective care.  They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands.  If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one–as well as yourself….I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love.  When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to my hand.  As you entrust others into my care,  I am free to shower blessings on them.  My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest.  This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me.  Watch to see what I will do.”
–“Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, 2004

The Gift of a Glimpse

Sometimes God speaks to us through little “gifts” that He sends our way.  For my 40th birthday, one I really was not looking forward to, God sent a gift to me that I will always treasure.

I have always thought of turning 40 as a milestone.  For some reason, that is the number that I’ve always dreaded–the one that, for me, felt like I was turning a corner in life.  I was waving goodbye to being “youthful” and saying hello to the next stage of life.  Everyone has that certain age in their head where they feel they are turning that corner–for some it’s 50, for some it’s 70, for some it’s 30–for me, it’s always been 40.  And here I was, turning that corner.  My 40th birthday happened to fall on the first day of school this year.  I work in a school and I knew it was going to be a busy, crazy day.  And it was.  It certainly did not feel like a birthday and as I went through my day I remember thinking how good it was that it was such a busy day–maybe I could just forget it was my 40th birthday and just move on.  Toward the end of the workday, I remember even thinking that maybe I could just order some dinner in and do some work that evening.  I could say goodbye to the day just like any other day.  Well, God had other plans for my “big day”.

When I got home from work I was ready to go eat–our plan was to go out as a family to Applebees for a birthday dinner.  When my husband told me to wait just alittle while, I was annoyed, hungry, tired and ready for the day to be done.  But, I waited…impatiently.  When he finally told me it was time to go and we stepped out the door, I watched a stretch limo pull into our driveway.  I thought that was a pretty neat surprise and had the driver take a picture of me and my family by the limo.  But that was not the surprise.

When the driver opened the limo door, there was in front of me the best surprise I have ever gotten.  There I saw my nieces, my sister, my mom and my grandmother inside the limo, waiting for me, singing to me.  My family had driven 6 hours to come celebrate my birthday with me!  To say I was in a state of shock is an understatement.  I could not believe my eyes–it felt like a dream and I remember thinking to myself, “no, this is really happening!”  I started laughing and crying all at once.  The joy I felt was inexpressible.  I did not know what to say…I only knew to laugh and cry and hug each one of them.  I remember saying their name as I hugged them–I was still wondering if this was just a dream and I had to say their name to make sure it really was happening.  In that moment I remember thinking to myself, “So this is what it must be like when you get to heaven.”  The joy, the unparalleled joy of seeing those you love most in the world, when you least expected to see them was, I know, God’s 40th birthday gift to me.  And in my heart, I knew that the joy and the love I felt in those precious moments was only a glimpse, a small 20 second preview of the unimaginable joy and love that awaits us in Heaven.  It is a joy and a love that cannot be compared to anything we experience here on Earth.  Not even the joy of seeing your child for the very first time.  Because even in that, there is still physical pain and a certain unknowing and apprehension that is there.  I use to think there could be no greater joy than seeing and holding your child for the first time.  But this joy, this feeling of being loved was different.  Because it was a love you knew.  It was a safe, accepting, familiar love.  It was a love that you miss when you’re apart and can’t wait to be together again.  It was the joy of being reunited.  When you see and hold your child for the first time, it is the first time.  It is the beginning of many things to come.  It is the beginning of a love that will grow and deepen.  But this, this was being united again with a love that was already deeply planted.  And this joy was immense because you knew how deep the roots were.  These are the best words, the only words that I have to describe God’s gift of a glimpse of Heaven.

And now, when I look back on that dreaded 40th birthday,  I smile.   It was one of the best days of my life.

This video was taken as I opened that limo door:   http://vimeo.com/user22677115/surprisevideo

What We Are Called To Do

Sometimes God puts prayers in my heart to say in very particular ways.

Before my family and I made a very big move out of state, away from all of our family, I kept praying that God would help us on our journey.  In those words, always using the word journey.  That became a prayer that I prayed for months before, during and even after our move.  Amazingly, when I went to the first retreat at the new school I was working at, we were told that our theme for that year would be The Journey and that we were all on the Journey together.  Of course, I realized immediately that this was no coincidence.  This was God letting me know that indeed, this was the Journey He wanted me to be on.

Something very similar just recently happened.  For about a year now I have been praying that God show me what He wants me to do vocation wise.  I just haven’t felt very passionate or motivated by what I am currently doing in my job and I just felt like there had to be more or something else that I was supposed to be doing.  I just didn’t have any idea of what that was!  Within the past few weeks, as I have been praying about it, I have felt God telling me to stop worrying so much about what’s next.  He showed me that this is something I have been doing for a long time.  Always searching for “what’s next”.  I felt God telling me that I am exactly where I am meant to be.  I am where I am.  He has told me that the important thing is what I am supposed to be doing where I am.  And that is that I need to be Christ to others.  Through my actions, words, thoughts and deeds He wants me to show others who He is.  He wants me to love with a Christ-like love so that others will see Him through me.  That message suddenly became very clear to me, almost like an epiphany.  And I embraced it immediately.  I began praying about this, asking God to help me, through my words, actions, thoughts and deeds, to show others who He is.  And not to be afraid.

Yesterday, at now my fifth retreat at my school, I was reaffirmed of my prayer, once again.  I know this, because the priest’s homily was (and these were his words) how our words and actions show others who God is.  He repeated “our words and actions” quite a few times…the same words I have been using lately in my prayer.  The moment he said it, I knew that what I had been feeling in my heart was truly God’s message to me.

And thinking about it, isn’t that His message to everyone?  We are all so busy searching for “what’s next” that we fail to do the most important thing we are called to do right where we are.  And that is to love.  To love all of those around us, all of the time.  At first, when I heard this message from God, all I could think was how simple that is.  Really?  That’s it?  That’s my purpose?  But right after that retreat, when I felt empowered and gung- ho about starting this mission from God, I learned that to love with a Christlike love was not going to be a simple task.  I had received an unkind email shortly after the retreat that immediately made my blood boil and I couldn’t wait to email something equally as unkind back.  However, God, in His grace, whispered to me, “Love”.  I did calm down after a few hours and did not respond to the email until the next day, when I had a chance to let God help me with this and I could respond in a loving manner.  At that moment, I realized that this would not be an easy task, but it was a mission, a calling, that I knew God had given me and I am determined to carry it out.

I hope that all of us can, at some point, hear that very same calling from God. I believe it is what we are called to do, wherever we are.  Because the important thing is not where we are.  It’s what we are doing while we are there.