This is a short devotional I gave at a baby shower for a friend. I love speaking almost as much as writing!
Lately it has occurred to me that raising children is really a series of letting go. From the moment they come out of the warm, protective, confines of our womb, there is a continual opening of the hand a little bit wider. We have to share this little life with our husbands, and parents and siblings. Then we let them go to a greater circle of loved ones. And when we pass them to someone else’s arms there is this little ache with the letting go. Then they start to crawl, and walk, and potty train and dress themselves, and we experience that little ache repeatedly over the years. And while these are things we hope for, and long for and look forward to, there is still this realization that with each developmental stage they are being taken away from us just a little bit more. This is as it should be. Our goal as parents should be to train our children to take their place in the world as independent from us. If we do our job right, we have hope that we will experience the blessing of having them become someone we are a little in awe of because they are more than we could have ever imagined. We find them to be friends, people we enjoy spending time with.
There are some things we have to watch for along this journey of child rearing, in order for it to result in what I like to call “functioning members of society.” We need to realize that this letting go is a good thing. We need to not try to stop the push for independence we see in our children, but instead, to guide it. We need to keep in mind that children are given to us for a time in order that we can train them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We are their window into the world. They will learn from us whether new experiences are something to be feared or embraced. They will learn how to recognize the signs of danger, or they will learn to depend on us to always do that for them. They will learn from us whether they are seen as a gift from God or a curse. We need to realize that this window of training and building a godly character in them is a relatively short process.
From your end, only now anticipating the birth of your first child, 18 years might seem like a rather long time. (And believe me, there will be nights and days to come when it will seem longer). From my end, with my baby being every bit a man, it seems like a very short time. And in reality, we are not guaranteed a certain number of days. So I would encourage you to be mindful that this baby girl is only yours for a few years to love, protect, train and push out of the nest. Don’t try to hang on to what is not yours to keep. But in the midst of the rush to instill in them all the tools for living in a few short years, there is also a need to remember that the brevity of childhood means that we only have a few moments to build memories. We need to not rush the process. Take the time to experience each phase of the journey. Enjoy each age. Be in the now. Stop what you are doing and listen to what they are saying. Watch them as they laugh and play and learn. Don’t wish away for another time when they will be older and “less work” I think it is good to ask ourselves, “in 10 years, what in this moment is going to be the most important?” Sometimes the answer to that will be – “that I stopped cleaning the kitchen to build a fort in the living room” and sometimes it will be, “that I taught them the value of doing work well and efficiently so that there is time and place for play”. Some days it will be important to communicate their great value to you as a person, and some days it will be to teach them the world does not revolve around them. It is a journey that will take much prayer and wisdom. It is a journey that will take learning from those who have gone before you. It is a journey that will require you to sift through the many good choices to find the things that are best. And when you get that twinge in your heart – when the curtain is pulled back for a moment and you see the speed of life rushing by – remember that this is all just a brief moment in time. Draw courage from that realization to do the hard work, draw comfort to endure the difficult providences, draw perspective to stop and live in the now.