Sunday, October 2, 2011

31 Days: Kids Have to Let Go, Too

It's one thing to let go when you're half grown-up and know enough to understand that it's all a part of life.

It's an altogether different thing when you're six years old and you ship your beloved barn cat off to his new home, a state away. You know Papaw and Grandma will take care of him. You know you will see him again. Your Mom and Dad remind you that you will always be Ralphie's family, he'll always be a part of your life. So, you write a list for him of his new cat siblings and you glue a school picture of yourself to the very top so he'll know that you're still there, somehow.

You stay strong until lights out, but then you come back downstairs, because you miss that cat.

So, what are we to do when the right choice interrupts the placid lives of our littles? How do we frame it for them? Should we take these things into consideration? Should their momentary sadness or anxiety change the plan? Are we destined to fall asleep at night with a brick of regret on our chests?

I don't have answers and every professional would offer different advice, so I just go with my gut. I tell him all over again why we're doing what we're doing.

We spend a lot of money to live in this house and it doesn't leave us with enough to do the important things, like helping people who need help. And we believe that we should be around people who need to see the love of Jesus so that they might come to really know him, so we're going to where they are.

We don't believe for a minute that we'll be changing the world here, but we do believe that there is a reason, and maybe in this big world where things aren't worth measuring unless they are measured in the thousands, one single reason is enough.

For most of my Mama years, I have believed that my biggest job was to make this life safe and serene for my children. I have told myself that it was up to me to protect them from real dangers like kidnappers and toilet cleaner and perceived dangers like the lurking threats of a neighborhood with busted up sidewalks and forlorn houses. I was right about the bleach, but not the 'hood. Because what if it's actually more dangerous for my kids to live fenced into an alternate universe where they never come face-to-face with reality? What happens when they are all grown up and have to make the choice for themselves? Isn't it likely that they will have learned to be apprehensive and scared about the parts of the world that don't play Christian music over the PA system?

Over the past year, Jesus has nudged my heart open to the truth that I used my kids as an excuse to avoid change. I wheeled them out in front of me when it came to ideas that required courage and faith. No way, Jose, it wouldn't be good for the kids. In reality, I was scared. In reality, I believed that it was up to me to hand-stamp a guarantee for protection and provision across their lives.

We believe that the plan for our family includes Calvin, Ruby and Silas. The plan for us is the plan for them, because we're a family. I want to see God in a Big way, and I want them to see it, too.

So, we'll huddle up and watch it unfold around us. We'll see together the way God huddles with us, works in us, works through us.

We'll all feel the way he rubs our backs at night when we're sad about leaving our house or our community or our cat. And in all of these things, He will become more real to the talls and the shorts.

*For the rest of the 31 Days of Letting Go series, click here.