By Dayna Street
When my oldest son was born, I mistakenly thought that holding him tight was the same as holding him close. When I would carry him as an infant, I held on to him so tightly that I am surprised he could even breathe. When he began to walk, I kept a vice grip on his hand when we were in public. Around the time he turned 2 years old, he began to be more independent and would at times try to pull away from me when we were walking in parking lots. In what is not one of the finest moments in my parenting history, I told him, “If you don’t hold my hand you might be hit by a car, and then you will bleed all over the place and die.” Yes, I told you that it was not a proud moment, but it was one that I delivered with theatrical intensity meant to keep my little towhead safe. One day, when he had gone for a visit to my parents, my phone rang and it has my father. Apparently, Jonathan had fallen and his nose was bleeding. And you guessed it, he thought he was going to die. At that moment, I realized that I was holding him tightly instead of holding him closely.
As a mother, I had to work hard not to hold on tight. At times, I handled that better than others. But the more I let go, the closer my relationship with my sons became. Sometimes, not holding on tight meant letting them make a mistake and then helping them grow, and loving them through the process. It meant not rescuing them when they were working through difficult times. It meant not trying to keep them little boys, but allowing them to become men one day at a time. It meant trusting God’s Word in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Along the way, I have learned to celebrate the “letting go” moments in the lives of my boys. And as I have done so, those moments have become milestones. When Jonathan married his sweet bride three years ago, I wrote this “Letting Go” letter to his wife–to-be with a joyful and grateful heart:
Jonathan’s dad and I have prayed for you for twenty-eight years. As I watched Jonathan grow up, with all of the antics and dirt of a boy child, I often imagined how his future wife was growing up, with ribbons, lace, and all of the frills rightfully belonging to a girl child. You, my dear, are the epitome of all that I could have imagined.
Since the day I first held Jonathan in my arms, I have loved him so much that it simply takes my breath away at times. As you marry and become one, I will love you with that same depth of affection. I have waited almost three decades for a daughter and now that the time has finally come, I can hardly contain myself! My dear daughter, please know that I will care for you as if you were my own (because you now are) and will cherish you throughout my remaining days on this earth.
For twenty-seven years, I have been the woman who has contributed the most (with Grandmama a close second) to who Jonathan is today, but you, dear Rachael, are the woman who will most influence the man Jonathan becomes. In you, God has divinely crafted the woman who is to complete Jonathan. As I pass that baton to you, please know that I will never cease to pray for you as you take your rightful place in his life, second only to his relationship with his Savior.
From my experience of being married for over thirty-four years, I can tell you that not every day will be perfect, but it will be those imperfect times that God will use to perfect and shape the two of you into the “one” He will use to impact His kingdom.
Each day I fall more in love with Jonathan’s dad. His smile, his touch, his words of affirmation and love grip me like no other. As I watch you and Jonathan together, I sense that same connection growing between the two of you. I look forward to watching you both, under the Lordship of Christ, create a home of joy, peace, forgiveness, and selflessness together. And together, the two of you will make a radical difference in the world that will impact eternity.
The day they wed three years ago is one of the most joyful days in my life. It was one of those milestone “let go” days that, in a way that only happens in God’s economy, has yielded incredibly high dividends that are “abundantly beyond” anything I could have expected. A daughter who is even more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside. A son who is being used by God to make a mark on eternity. And now, our very first grandchild, a precious boy.
So now, in my empty nest years, I treasure those moments when I held my boys close, but celebrate when I see the work God has and is doing as I have let go.
I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4