Turning—an update

In January, I chose one word for the year: turn. I wrote about it here.

In typical “me” fashion, I’d already forgotten. Staying focused isn’t always my strong suit. Especially during summer, when it seems like the rest of the world is going on vacation and lounging by the pool, but I still have all of my normal responsibilities for work, plus three kids hanging out with me every day. My work load has been out of control. I’ve traveled quite a bit but never had the chance to truly relax, because the trips were either for business or to visit my dad during his cancer treatments. Lots of things are happening behind the scenes with my book. (Publication date is just about 8 months away—less time than it takes to have a baby. But nearly as exhausting and all-consuming and miraculous.) So when it comes to time to think, to meditate, to focus, well, let’s just say I’ve been distracted.

But God never loses track. And here’s the funny thing. Even though the word itself wasn’t at the top of mind, my thoughts have stayed on that path that was chosen for me in December. I just forgot to notice.

My middle child, Anna, graduated from high school in May. She will be going to college 6-7 hours away from home (depending on what time of day we drive through Chicago to get there), and as you read this, we’ll be doing our last loads of laundry before finishing her packing. My eldest spent a month in China on a mission trip (and is now back in college in Iowa, 5.5 hours away—what is it with my kids all wanting to go far away?). They’re amazing girls. Completely different from each other. I’m so proud of them and excited to see what they accomplish. And their brother is an 8th grader. Definitely entering a new stage with him, and preparing for the dynamics at home to change significantly now that it will just be the three of us. They’re fascinating and frustrating, all at once, but I enjoy each one of my kids in so many ways.

Which makes me think of one of my sweetest memories about my mom. We were driving one day in the car, and she said, “You know, if I’d have known how great you two girls would turn out, I would have tried to have another one.” And while the three children I have are plenty, and I don’t think I share her sentiment exactly, I get what she means.

But even when your kids are bright and funny, kind and talented and capable, it’s a huge leap of faith to step back. Hands off. Let them do it their own way. When you love someone this much, it’s so hard to let go.

But we have to. My friend Lisa told me a long time ago that our job as parents is to put ourselves out of a job. We have to prepare our kids to think for themselves, make decisions, do things on their own.

At our church, we dedicate babies instead of baptizing them. Basically, this means the parents are saying they want to raise their children to serve God, and they’re asking for the help of the church family in doing so. We pray for the baby—but also for the parents, for the extended families, for all the people who will have a role in the child’s life.

And the parents’ role in the dedication? They’re practicing letting go. Turning their children over to God. Really, our kids belong to Him, not to us. We just get to help for a while. Along the way, we need to turn them over, time and time again. Every time we fail, every time we’re concerned or confused or inadequate.

This is my year to turn. Towards God. To lean on Him and to turn my kids over to Him. To relinquish the control I like to think I have over my life and my children.

It’s their turn to shine, their turn to make decisions and set goals and figure out how to prioritize and make things happen. I have to remember, they’re not mine. They’re His. I have to trust them to listen to Him, not to me.

And I have to remember, they’re not turning away from me. They’re turning towards whatever He has in store for them.

So even though I’ll likely be shedding a few tears this week, I’ll also be murmuring my word as a prayer.

Turn, baby, turn. Go. Be. Do. Turn into all that you can be. Turn this world upside down. You are amazing. I love you.

2 Responses to “Turning—an update”

  1. CathyDulingShouse says:

    Those last words you wrote in italics brought tears to my eyes. I am where you are, with a college junior and a 9th grader. My word for the year is “discipline” and I keep forgetting it, too. Not a good sign! lol For me, part of that word is having the discipline to give them their independence, appropriate for their situations. I can still “help” them, of course. 🙂 The difference can be a very fine line!

  2. Sweetie you are in good company I am sure. I love your processing, admire your honesty and love calling you friend.
    I am having to do that with my 87 year old Dad as after losing my whole family in one year except for Dad it’s been hard to let him go. Every time he walks away, or get’s on a plane, or drives off after a vacation together I want to say “No, come back! Let me take care of you!” The ticking of the clock, the wandering of a soul as life unfolds, no matter where we are is all about trusting GOD with those we love. Blessings to you dear girl!

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