I was taken by surprise recently when my son informed me that he and his wife were looking for jobs in western Kentucky. It seemed to me like they had everything going for them right where they are. By most people’s estimation, they surely do. But for reasons of their own they have decided to relocate.
At first I was more hurt than anything else. When my son graduated from high school and left Harlan, I knew it was necessary to pursue his dreams. First undergraduate school took him only three hours away, but it was still tough not having him home. We always got along well and I enjoyed having the hustle and bustle of his friends coming and going.
When he applied and was accepted in pharmacy school seven hours away, it wasn’t easy to encourage him to go, but I wanted what was best for him. An excellent school was recruiting him and I knew it was answered prayer when the doors swung open and everything fell in place.
When he announced that he was ready to ask a girl he’d met in pharmacy school to marry him, I knew I had to let go again in a totally different way. I would no longer be the friend and confidant I had been for him through the years. He had chosen a life partner and those responsibilities would become hers.
This time, however, knowing that he would be taking his little family another three hours further from home really hit me hard. Maybe it’s because I’m older. Maybe it’s because I love my grandbabies and hate to see them go further away than they are now. I wrestled with it for days, cried prayed, and finally came to a place of peace in my heart.
Letting go of something or someone you love with all of your heart is never easy. But the truth is, our children are only ours for a little while. They are given into our care and it is our responsibility to give them a firm foundation for the days ahead, to teach them about the love of God, the purpose of life, and enable them to spread their little wings and fly away when it is time.
My parents had to find their own way in the great big world away from Harlan. They launched out into the unknown in search of the life they were meant to live. Their journey took them away from home and kept them away for almost thirty years before they returned.
Likewise, I had to find my own way in the world. Even though I wound up coming full circle back to Harlan to devote my teaching career, my parents had to let me go away from home to college. They had to turn me over to a husband and help pick up the pieces after a divorce, and watch me try to fly again on my own.
It couldn’t have been any easier for my grandparents, or my parents, than it has been for me to let go of the son I love, his wife, and the grand children I adore. But because I love them, I will. I will turn them over to God’s loving care, knowing that as much as I love them, He loves them even more. I will believe that God has a plan for their lives and that He is directing their paths.
I have had to remind myself that at least they are not moving to Alaska, New York, Texas, California, Florida or to another continent. Their journey might have taken them much further away than where they are going.
I want the best for them, just as my parents wanted what was best for me, and their parents wanted what was best for them. There is an endless cycle in this life of letting go of the ones we love. It isn’t easy, but it is necessary.