Encouragement for Today
“Tightly Gripped or Wiggled Free”
Van Walton, Spanish Ministries Coordinator, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member
1 Samuel 1:27-28, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord …” (NIV)
Frantically, like a mad woman, I crawled across the floor traveling as fast as a middle-aged female could maneuver. Reaching the sofa I ducked my head for a clear view and waved my arm back and forth under the couch, grasping at my prey. Suddenly I saw the little critter dart out of reach. “Oh, no you don’t,” I yelled. I hit the floor with my fist and pushed myself into an ape-like stance while racing the lizard to the chair. A sliding, head-first dive landed me on my side, face to face with the tiny reptile. We were both out of breath. I was out of shape. It was scared to death. Slowly I raised my arm, opened my hand and came down on him. Ah hah! I had captured the creature.
I am sure no one quite understands the important and necessary things I do each day, as I slave away to keep my home a safe and clean haven for my family.
The next trial was to keep the lizard secure in my hand and get it outside, where it belonged, while not crushing it to death. At that moment my mind raced back to childhood summer visits at my cousin’s house. We found many ways to entertain ourselves. Our favorite pastime was hunting down critters. Together we spent hours stalking toads, frogs, crawdads, and other various and interesting creatures. Once we found them, the sport was to keep the pets firmly in our grasp until we found them a home – either a box or a bowl. Almost always our prize managed to wiggle out of our firm grip or hop off our tiny hands. It was a delicate challenge to hold on to a lightning bug or a butterfly. Keeping insects or reptiles in our clasp was a competition of a unique sort, not for the faint of heart. We hated to lose our trophies! To this day I can feel the emotional struggle of holding firm, but not too tight, and of realizing that I was losing my hold. The live little treasure was slipping away.
It has been years since I ran around parks and ponds entertaining myself, but the anxiety of losing the cherished find is still a very real and deeply felt emotion.
I didn’t realize how real until recently, when my son announced that he wanted to marry his lovely girlfriend. So, over the next six weeks his dad and I counseled and coached as he asked for our blessing, searched for an engagement ring, set off to ask her dad for her hand in marriage, proposed to her, and brought her back to our home so we could smother her with our love and acceptance. We gave financial direction and emotional support. We encouraged and tried to keep our mouths shut when necessary.
All the while I experienced a strange, yet recognizable, anxiety. I couldn’t quite come to grips with my emotions. I struggled to understand my feelings laced with dread, anxiety, panic and grief. Then slowly, as I dug deep within and far back, it came to me. These were the same sensations I had known as a child. My treasure was wiggling out of my firm grip. I understood this all too-familiar predicament. I knew how it was going to end – what had been my prize for a long season of my life was about to hop right out of my hand. Suddenly, I felt like the little girl many years ago. I opened my hands, looked at my son, and knew he was slipping away. In no time he would escape! And I couldn’t go chasing after him like a mad woman, grabbing at her prey, hoping to hold onto him.
Then I took my conflicted emotions to Jesus and I prayed. Could I let him go? Was he ready to be free of me and his dad and his family? Could he survive on his own? Would he be able to care for a wife, be a provider and a protector? What had I left undone?
This is a difficult process for a mother – not easy to let go – harder than kindergarten, high school or college. This is it! He’s gone.
When my children were little, I focused on their future. I knew I was raising my boys to be men, husbands, and fathers. Today, although my hands and my heart ache with emptiness, they also are full of joy because of God’s trustworthy Biblical promises. With great anticipation, I praise God for the opportunities that await this young man and his bride.
God gave him to me to “train up in the way he should go.” I taught Aaron everything I could about his Heavenly Father. As a result, although I may feel like something has gone missing from my life, Aaron is not leaving home empty-handed nor with a vacant heart. You see, he’s walking with Jesus as he steps toward his future. He has God’s Word tucked in his mind. The Holy Spirit has filled him with strength, courage and perseverance to face the world’s trials.
I hate to see Aaron go. But it’s comforting to know – this is God’s design. Just as I knew to return my critter to its natural place, I must now accept that my son must go to the place God has planned for him.
My Prayer for Today:
Abba, it is such a conflict to want to hold onto my child, all the while knowing he must go. You know how I feel. You, too, have watched your children walk away. I need You to comfort me. Fill my empty places – those that need your gentle understanding. I want to be joyful in this natural process. And, I pray for all young mothers who are beginning their journey. May they choose to introduce their children to Jesus so, when that day comes, as it surely will, may future generations move out into the world confidently, that You hold them safely in Your Hands.
Read Sharon Jaynes’ book, Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids. She builds her chapters around one phrase in Proverbs 31: “Her children rise up and call her blessed.” (Simply click on the selection in the “Additional Resources” below to find out more about the book.)
Ask yourself, When my children are grown, will they be able to bless me because I introduced them to my Best Friend and by doing so gave them confidence and security in Jesus Christ?
What steps can you take, as you train up your children, to ground them in God’s Word?
Have you decided which are the most important lessons to teach your children?
Are your children familiar with church, Sunday school, the Bible, prayer, Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit?
How often do you bring Godly topics into your conversation?
When parenting becomes a trial and you tire of the day in, day out repetitions, don’t give up. Look to the future. What do you want your child to look like, physically, emotionally and spiritually when he or she leaves home?
Genesis 2:21-22, “So the LORD God caused sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” (NAS)
Proverbs 6:20-23, “My son, obey your father's commands, and don't neglect your mother's teaching. Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck. Wherever you walk, their counsel can lead you. When you sleep, they will protect you. When you wake up in the morning, they will advise you. For these commands and this teaching are a lamp to light the way ahead of you. The correction of discipline is the way to life.” (NLT)
Proverbs 22:6a, “Train up a child in the way he should go…” (NAS)
Matthew 19:5, “'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.'” (NIV)
Mark 10:9, “Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate." (NIV)
Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids, by Sharon Jaynes
Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child, by Renee Swope
P31 Woman Magazine