What does it mean to let go of your child? Am I supposed to do that? As a parent, aren't I supposed to always hang on? Always believe for the best?
Our eldest daughter's headlong race to destruction fit nowhere in the plan my husband and I had when we began to have children. Our goal was to raise Godly young men and women of character, people who would make a difference for good in this world. This detour was not what we'd signed on for.
As I agonized over her choices, praying for her restoration, I apologized to the Lord for whatever I'd done to facilitate this. "I only wanted my children to bring honor to You," I cried. "I had these children to bring you glory, not shame."
And the still, small whisper answered, "I will receive glory from this, but remember, my ways are not your ways. I will turn this darkness into light, because you want me to. But you may not like it."
Instantly, a vision of a white casket filled my mind. It sat on rollers in the front of quiet church filled with somber strangers, many of whom had contributed to the fact that my daughter now lay inside that closed box. I stood before them, at the podium, making eye contact with the crowd she had chosen over us. Over God.
"Even then?" the whisper asked. "Even if that is the way I will receive glory from this?"
I couldn't breathe. My heart ripped apart inside my chest and every fiber of my being ached as the question awaited an answer. Was this what it meant to let go? Was it worth it?
"Yes, Lord. Even then. If that's what it takes, even then."
I arose from my knees, feeling as though I weighed a thousand pounds. Was I sure? Even then? Did I know what I'd just agreed to?
Letting go means peeling your fingers off the future. Often we let go the way a child lets go of a helium balloon--with a string tied to it. It rises enough to give the impression that it's free, but the child knows he still holds the string.
Letting go means giving up all expectations to God. All of it. My prayers until that time had focused on one thing--my daughter's restoration and eventual reconciliation with her family. How could God want anything else?
But God is God. He doesn't need me giving him instruction. We are here for His glory--not the other way around. If I truly gave birth to my children for the purpose of bringing him praise and glory, then I would have to accept his way of doing it. Otherwise, it was a Cain's offering--giving to God what I wanted to give, not what He required.
I lived with that vision for many months as our daughter cycled in and out of our lives, in and out of rehab, of relationships, of lies and more lies. It followed me to bed at night, but not as a nightmare. It was a benediction. I had let go of my own dreams for my daughter's future and had accepted God's ability to pull dreams from ashes. His dreams, not mine.
But I knew it would be okay. My heart could take it, because whatever her future held would not be a tragic mistake. I would know that whatever happened next, God was in control. And He would receive all the glory and honor I longed to bring him--much better than any plan I could have envisioned.
Letting go is not giving up. It is freeing God to be God in your child's life--whatever path that may take. Our rabid clinging to our own plans and hopes only brings us sorrow too great to bear. God wants to give us peace in the midst of the storm. He can't do that while we're still clinging to the tattered remnants of our sinking boat.
Have you let go? It's a process, not a one-time thing. Until we let them go into God's hands, He's not free to be God to them. And He's much better at being God than we are.