My husband and I froze in terror as the conversation with our eighteen year old daughter turned from a normal discussion into an audio car wreck. We stared at each other with wide-eyed fear listening as screams, squealing tires, and unidentified noises emanated from the speakerphone. My husband kept our daughter talking until the driver came to a stop and the kids had calmed down enough to inspect the damage. The phone was our only link; we weren’t willing to let that go.
What a helpless feeling! The minute they’re born, our children begin the process of autonomy and range further from our reach. We raise them to be independent, but wish we could protect them from all harm. The hardest part of parenting is realizing that ultimately, we cannot save them from accidents, illness, the hurts others inflict on them, or the consequences of their sinful choices.
Seeing the movie Taken shook me. In it, two recent high school graduates travel to Europe where gangsters who drug and sell young women into prostitution, kidnap a young girl and her friend. During the capture, her father listens helplessly on his cell phone. As a former government spy, he has access to equipment and know how, plus the physical strength needed to rescue his daughter. However, I don’t have any of that at my fingertips. Or do I?
My most fearful yet faith-building parenting moments were when my oldest daughter traveled a total of 16 months with a mission organization. She lived in primitive filth in Samoa; thieves in Africa stole her ATM card and money; and she spent Christmas sick, poor, and alone in Rome.
Anxiety about her situation gripped me night and day. I wanted to go to my child, but was unable to help her. So I reached out to the only One who could. God answered my prayers. He sent caring people to help her and gave her the courage she needed to make it. God also gave me the kind of peace only He can give. I knew no matter what happened, He would be there for her.
Why does God allow us to feel so helpless? So we’ll learn to depend completely on Him. When we realize we can’t do anything to control the situation anyway, we run to Him more readily. There are only three things I know I can control:
* I can dedicate my children to God, acknowledging they are ultimately His. He gave them to me and He has a plan for their lives.
* I can point them to God. I can tell them, and show them by the way I live, that God and His Word are the answer for every dilemma they face.
* I can entrust them to God, releasing them in prayer for Him to direct, rebuke, heal, or comfort according to His will. God loves them even more than I do and is always working for their ultimate good.
I wish this shielded them from experiencing pain. Yet sometimes, pain is a necessary element to help my children see when they’re headed the wrong way. I have to let go of the illusion that I can make them choose to do the right thing, or even the smart thing. I have to let go when their behavior is unwise, or rebellious, or impatient. I have to let them grow and mature and succeed in their own time, in their own way.
The blessing is that even though I must let go of my children as they grow up, God never does. His angels can surround them with peace, protection, and guidance. His Holy Spirit can speak to their minds and hearts to bring forth miraculous transformation and blessings. And the Father’s arms can usher them forward, pull them back, or hold them close no matter where they are.
~ (c) Beth Vice 2009