He had only been gone for 15 or so minutes when the phone rang. I had been enjoying the slow start to my Saturday and reading the news on my phone when his picture popped up. Swiping left, I answered his call. What could he had forgotten? He didn’t really need anything to help the sweet church lady move into a smaller place.
I could tell instantly by the tone in his voice something wasn’t quite right. His words were coming at my ears faster than I could comprehend what he was saying. “A cut . . . a china cabinet . . . I’m okay . . . headed to the ER at Exit 11 . . .”
Trying to assimilate the facts, I stammered out a question or two, still not able to ascertain what had happened. Did he want me to come? Was he sure he was “okay”? Did he think anything was broken?
I was to stay with the girls. He did not want me to come. I needed to wait. He kept saying he was okay.
About an hour and half later, he was on his way home and called again. Eight stitches. The full story – trying to clear the top of the moving van, holding the upper half of Mrs. Evans’ china cabinet with the pastor, he slipped, landing on his knees, dropping the solid piece of furniture. It “just happened” to miss crushing his left-hand.
Yes, there had been a lot of blood.
No, he hadn’t damaged the furniture.
Yes, it could have been a lot worse.
No, he didn’t mean to get out of all the work by injuring himself on the first trip from the house to the truck.
I found myself looking at him randomly all afternoon and into the evening, silently praying, thanking God for His protection, for answering my prayers after the first phone call, and for taking care of my husband in ways I cannot.
At one point, Wally asked me why I kept looking at him “like that.” My answer caught in my throat as the realization of what I was feeling bubbled to the surface. As I uttered the words, I fought to keep the hot tears from streaming down my face.
“Believe me, I am very aware that you are the exact age your older brother was when he died.”
Saturday, I was faced with my very healthy husband’s vulnerability, and, if I am honest, my greatest fear – that he would be taken from me.
On Sunday morning, as I stumbled from my bedroom into the kitchen to start the coffee, I had the fleeting moment when I had forgotten that my oldest daughter spent the weekend away on a church retreat. Seeing her door open and knowing that her bedroom was empty sent a numbing thought through my bleary, barely-awake brain – it wouldn’t be long until I awake every morning to find her space empty. College may be a little over two years away, but they will be the fastest two years of my life.
Riley will be gone and the great responsibility to parent and disciple her will look vastly different. Right now, at least I have some kind of control and a greater influence to speak into her life-choices. As she has grown and gotten older, I have realized that she has to learn who she is and be able to make more and more decisions on her own. As she slowly stretches her wings, she has to face her own consequences for those decisions and my role her life, while it doesn’t necessarily diminish, it has to change.
This is a hard truth pill to swallow.
She is not the little girl with the Star Wars fascination and collection of small lions she played with in her room. She needs me, but not in the same ways. I miss the grade-school kid she was, but I do love the young woman she is becoming too. I want to hold on to her, but I know I must let her go as well.
Holding on and letting go is a balancing act I am facing with my youngest daughter too. She is set -completely ready in every aspect possible – to start kindergarten in August. Due to the age gaps in between all three of our girls, it will be the first time in 16 years we have not had a preschooler in the house.
No more babies . . .
As I process all of these things, I realize I have to hold all of these relationships – my marriage, my three girls – in open hands before God.
To grasp onto any or all of them too tightly puts them all in the position of idols in my life. No one truly wants to be anyone’s idol. What kid, or spouse for that matter, can handle that kind of pressure? Besides, that gapping place in all of us can’t be filled by any one person or group of people. God put that hole in us to seek Him and find that only He can fill that void.
It’s a total control issue for me. Control -mixed with my own expectations of how I think things “should” be. I continually set myself up for frustration and disappointment. When things don’t go how I think they should, or if they don’t respond how I think they ought to, then I am angry and even depressed. There is only One who can ultimately control the outcome and I have found Him completely worthy to trust with how things are “supposed to be.”
By placing each of “my” people in outstretched, open palms, offering them to the only One who loves them more than I do – I can let them go. My faith isn’t in them – their physical presence with me, or how much they need me, or any other validation I could find in them. My faith is in the One who placed them in my life.
He has plans for them. He hears my prayers for them. He knows what is best for them. He sustains and keeps them.
He knows what is best for me too. He is using them to make me more like Jesus. He beckons me to trust Him even more with them. He sustains and keeps me too.
I’d like to say that that I have figured out this balancing act between holding on and letting go, but the way my fear washed over me Saturday and how I saddened at the sight of open door on Sunday – I know the struggle is real. I can only imagine how I will feel as the first day of school dawns and I watch my two youngest children shuffle up the stairs into the building – one her first day and the other her last first day of elementary school.
I want to believe. I say I trust Him. But my fears and insecurities betray me. Like the solider who sought Jesus to heal his daughter, I come to Him saying I believe but begging Him to help my unbelief all at the same time.
I don’t know what He might ask of me in this process of sanctification. But I do know that He is good and is working good – for me and for those I love most.
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