My little one used to hold my hand all the time. If we were crossing parking lots or roads or just walking into a store, he quickly reached out for me. He has now reached the age of pulling away and fighting my grip because he thinks he is big enough to walk alone. His quest for independence usually comes out in a huff and a puff and trying to yank his hand away. Today I turned every head near me as I yelled ‘stop’ to my running son and grabbed his hand hard. He fought like crazy but I wasn’t letting go. Sure I got stared down, some people probably thought I was one of ‘those‘ moms, but I don’t think one other mother would berate me for gripping tighter to my son's hand as he fought me across the busy road. On the other hand, I could get arrested for child endangerment if I let him run across the road on his own just like he wants to and I just don’t think a judge would let ‘he said he was big enough’ slide as an excuse. He doesn’t like my grip but he can’t see what I can see or know what I know. He has no concept of the hurt and pain his disobedience would cause himself and all those around him. And so my grip tightens as I reign him in...because I love him.
We are all born with a sin nature and a major part of that is the desire to be independent. I could use big words like autonomous or self sufficient but it all really boils down to a prideful attitude that screams ‘I don't need you’ and often turns into ‘I don’t want you either.’ When we aren't the ones doing the squeezing, it's easy to label those people bossing us around control freaks and we try to push away with all our might. I've noticed that we can put the same label on God. We twist and pull against His tightening grip, ask (or yell) to let go of our hand because we can do it by ourself. This whole thing is too narrow minded, too controlling, too many rules. Sometimes God’s grip seems stiflingly tight. Tight around finances, tight around relationships, tight in conviction. He just keeps holding on and holding me back because He loves me. He is trying to spare me from all the hurt that will affect me and those around me. His grip also keeps me close to Him so I can hear His voice. I know the truth because it's the same thing I tell my son, 'it only hurts because you are pulling away.' It never hurts when I remember my first love and the joy of reaching for His hand.
What would it take to change your mindset from fighting God to submitting to His hand? Have you lost your love for holding God's hand or started walking by yourself?
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:5-6
Some places in life are meant to be embraced as they are and those that gifted Garden of the Gods to Colorado Springs felt that way too. This breathtaking free park hosts towering red rock stone formations that have been shoved like splinters in the middle of the valley’s landscape. Enjoying some trails on the outskirts led us back to the center of some climbing places where the boys pit their strength against the rocks. Climbing, jumping, shimmying and sliding, every crack and crevice needed to be explored and conquered. Seth confidently made it up and through a high narrow crag (with his mom’s heart beating wildly) where his daddy met him on the other side. Some places were conquered, others conquered us and a few marks and bruises may be souvenirs for the journey home.
As a parent, we walk this fine line between hand feeding our babies and pushing them out of the nest. Many times I would like to remain in the ‘I (try to) control you’ phase like when they are little because I can manage the outcome and (let’s be truthful here) manage my reaction to the outcome. However, these boys are growing before my eyes, almost eye level and we are sending 2 off into a new school this season. Their desire to be men and prove themselves runs strong against my desire to hold and protect and so I watch them run...and climb...and fall amongst the towering obstacles, and I encourage and cheer. Because if they can’t hear me cheer for them here when the stakes and failures are small, will they hear me cheer for them out there?
My boys know they are loved...they roll their eyes daily when I tell them. But I also know the enemy seeks to steal their strength, that God-instilled part that is created to conquer and protect and provide and stand strong against the onslaught of life. Just like these towering rocks they are fighting against in this park don't want to be changed, my boys want to be embraced as they are. It’s that part that I cheer when they look to me with eyes that scream ‘am I enough, do I have what it takes?’ Yes son, you do, now go climb your mountain. And I cry as they grow up and away but I know their Daddy will catch them on the other side.
The Shadow of My Porch Swing
You will usually find me on my porch swing or trying to get there at least. Warm drink in hand and the best view in the world...4 boys digging a hole. Seriously tho, I enjoy the chance to sit and rest but mostly ponder the life that happens in between each of those sways of that swing. As the sun rises and sets, the shadow of that swing moves across my porch reminding me that Jesus is always shining on each moment. May you find hope and rest in Jesus here.
Partnering with YouVersion and The Bible App, The Shadow of My Porch Swing - 7 day devotional is now available in the Plans section of the Bible app. Click link above or search by title or 'God's Presence.'