I woke up this morning with my eight year old grandson’s feet burrowing into my belly. It was actually a delightful way to start the day. I watched him settle into a few more minutes of peaceful sleep and it took me back to the days when our three children crawled into bed and snuggled. I always basked in those moments because so many older, wiser women told me to do so – how often I heard women say, “Enjoy every minute because the time flies by so quickly.”
So I did and it did.
Thirty and twenty-eight and almost twenty-five years later, those precious little children have grown up and become adults. They deeply feel the realities of becoming independent and dealing with so much responsibility thrust upon them in this pressure-packed, disappointing and fast-paced life.
Considering all that they face in this unforgiving world, they’re doing pretty good. When I was their age, I was struggling too and it was good for me to take some time last night to reflect on my young adult days, so long ago.
E.E.Cummings once said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” I agree. It takes courage, wisdom and time to understand who God made you to be – and very few people have that figured out at age thirty.
Without a doubt, growing up involves struggle – struggle that is character developing and integrity producing and wrong thinking challenging. I don’t want to rescue my children and shield them from the tough realities of life. I want them to pull from within and figure stuff out on their own. Someone recently told me “Parents are supposed to help their kids for the rest of their lives.”
I couldn’t disagree more.
God calls parents to LOVE their children for the rest of their lives and they are accountable to do so but loving adult children is very much about letting go, not holding on tighter. It’s about keeping your hands off, not swooping in and rescuing them every time they have a problem. Our adult children love us by giving us time and space to enjoy and honor God with the second half of our lives as well.
As a good friend reminded me this morning, “Support, yes. Listening ear, yes. Advice, if they ask for it. (And I would add prayer to the list.) But they need to learn to lean on the Lord for themselves.”
I received many encouraging emails regarding yesterday’s post and yes, ” a good night’s sleep has brought me on the upward trail from my “valley.” It wasn’t a crisis. It was a blip of time in the big picture of my life and I have to say that I learned more about my beautiful daughter yesterday than I have in a long time. I think she learned more about me too. We are both committed to working through the “stuff” that comes between us, as painful and frustrating as it can be at times.
I reminded her that life on this earth is not forever and “so far as it depends on us, we are to live peacefully with all people.” (Romans 12.19) It’s a tall order but when lived out, it frees us from lingering regret and the weight of “if only…” thinking.
So, we press on, heal, give, listen, speak, cry, do, change, forgive, laugh and love.