Leaving her was the easy part, driving back alone was a different story. As a mom, you always know in the back of your mind that your child, in fact, all your children, will leave home someday. Some will chomp at the bit and cannot wait for the opportunity, while others are more reticent. Katy falls somewhere in the middle. She is in a period of life when she is figuring out her future – at least the next step she should take. All of us must navigate the uncharted territory in front of us at some point.
Katy graduated high school last spring and yesterday I dropped her off in South Florida, with her older sister, Rachel, where she will help with Rachel’s new baby and work on her art. Her leaving is not a surprise, but it still pulls on my heart. She is going to live with two of the most solid, grounded, and wise people I know, but still it was hard to say goodbye. I won’t be there to hear all the little new things in her life, to sit on her bed and talk through a problem, or to hug her. I must trust her, and trust God to care for her. Her leaving is another step in my faith-walk. Even though I’ve had 6 other children leave home to make their way in the world, it doesn’t get any easier. But by now I have many more testimonies in my arsenal to attest that when the time is right, it’s important to let go. The first time we had to let go was with our son, Cliff.
Just after Cliff, our oldest child, graduated from high school, we went to our favorite beach condo in St. Augustine, Florida, for a week-long vacation. This particular condo was the perfect place for our family because one of the 3 bedrooms had 2 sets of bunk beds and from the balcony on its 2nd floor location you could see the entire pool area as well as the ocean. But that year the weather was not cooperative. We were sandblasted by buffeting winds and cold temperatures. So, on our second day there, we took all the kids to the local Barnes and Noble to pick out some books to read. I chose The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise which focuses on how to teach your children in the classical tradition, with emphasis on Latin, logic and thinking skills.
At first, I was excited to learn about the classical approach to education, but the more I read, the more depressed I became. One morning, about halfway through our week there, I awoke around 4 AM knowing I had failed Cliff. Here he was already graduated from high school and he knew no Latin. I hadn’t given him a class in logic. The tears just poured out, so I hurried to the bathroom, so I wouldn’t wake anyone. I had no idea how to fix this gaping hole in Cliff’s education. And as a homeschooling mom, I knew it was all my fault. My husband Bernie had made plans to take Cliff deep sea fishing that day, so he woke up around 5 AM to get ready, and found me sobbing in the bathroom. I went to the bed and tried to get control of my raging emotions. Bernie was at a loss because he and Cliff had to leave but he didn’t want to leave me there weeping in the dark. He found my Bible and tossed it into my lap, and encouraged me to read it. Then he and Cliff left.
Although I knew Bernie was right, I just stared at my Bible and had no sense of where to even start. I knew that the beginning is usually the best place to start but I decided I didn’t want to start in Genesis with the creation of the earth. So, I picked up my Bible, held it in front of me and declared to God, “I believe You can speak to me every time I read Your Word, so I am going to read this and expect You to minister to my hurting heart.” Then I opened it to the beginning of the New Testament, Matthew Chapter One. Well, I forgot it starts with the genealogy of Jesus. But something quickened in me when I saw verse after verse of names, and I affirmed aloud, “You can speak to me even through a list of names!” And I commenced to read,
“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife…”
I read through the list out loud, slowly and as I did, it dawned on me that every person in the genealogy of Jesus was broken, sinful and needed God’s help. Even the fathers of the faith, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
Abraham walked with God and had a clear calling, but he tried to pass off his wife Sarah to Pharaoh as his sister when they were in Egypt because she was beautiful, and he was afraid Pharaoh would kill him.
Isaac gave his blessing to the wrong son, to his younger son, Jacob, when it should have been to his oldest son, Esau.
Jacob deceived his father into giving the family blessing to him instead of to his older brother.
Judah didn’t give his son Shelah to his daughter-in-law Tamar, after her first two husbands, his first and second sons, died, then he slept with her and she became pregnant. It’s a messy story…but that was the point, they are ALL messy stories.
Just like my story.
Yet there they were, in the genealogy of Jesus. Rahab and Ruth were both foreign women, but they are the grandmother and great-grandmother of King David. David slept with a married woman, then had her husband killed. Nevertheless, he was a friend of God.
After I read these and thought about them, I remembered the scripture in Zechariah 4:6, “So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.” I was beginning to feel some measure of peace.
Cliff’s success didn’t depend on whether he had taken Latin or logic, but he would be ok because it would be by God’s Spirit. Then I asked the Lord how He saw Cliff. I truly wanted to see Cliff the way God saw him. And the thought came to me to look up Matthew 3:16 – 17. At first, I argued it should be John 3:16 since I knew that verse by heart. But I again thought Matthew 3:16-17. So, I looked it up. What I read made me cry tears of unabashed amazement. “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
My heart was rocked. Does God really see my son as He sees His Son, Jesus? Is He well-pleased with him? And I know the answer. Because God sees Jesus when He looks at any believer – He sees Cliff the same way He sees Jesus. I was blown away. Encouraged and filled with hope, I thanked God for revealing this to me in such a poignant way. I could trust God because it was by His Spirit that Cliff would live and I didn’t have to worry about any holes in his education or anywhere else in his life. Because God was, and is, in control. He would take care of it for me.
Likewise, I can trust God with Katy. He will fill any gaps in how she was raised or in her education. I can rest in Him knowing He has a plan for the future of each of my children and for me…and His plans are always exceedingly, abundantly better than mine.
How have you experienced letting go? Please leave your comment in the section below.
Article by Ruth Grunstra
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Hi I'm Ruth
What is the biggest challenge you are facing with your child? My husband and I had the first of our 8 children in 1984 and our youngest in 2002. We've been married since 1980 and we are always learning new ways to engage our children. We would love to hear from you. Contact us and let us know what you have found that works and what doesn't, or ask me a question.
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