How to Hold On Without Letting Go
When our oldest vandal son, Sam was about 3 he carried two Hotwheels cars with him wherever he went.
One in each hand.
He wouldn’t let them go.
On an outing to Target, as I stood in the checkout line Sam drove his two cars over the Snickers display making boy noises. An elderly woman from one line over finished her purchase and made her way toward us.
“Excuse me,” she touched my arm.
“Yes?” I inquired.
“Your son is about the same age as my grandson in Florida. I had a coupon for buy one get one free on Hotwheels. May I give your boy my free purchase?”
She stood before me like a little girl on Christmas morning, an excited smile spread across her face, and she was holding not one single matchbox car, but a box of 10 tiny vehicles.
She had Sam’s full attention.
“Please?” She interjected. “I would just love for him to have them.”
I couldn’t tell her no. She most genuinely wanted to bless Sam.
“Sure.” I gave in.
She crouched a little and said, “Would you like to have this box of cars?” Sam nodded an emphatic yes. She smiled and held the box out to him. He looked at each hand and then looked at me. His hands were full.
I held out my hand to take the two cars and he looked at his hands and at me and shook his head no. He couldn’t put the two cars down to receive the gift.
The event turned out to be a painfully awkward encounter, one where I bit the inside of my cheek until I bled, so as not to scream, “I AM GOING TO KICK YOUR LUNG OUT IF YOU DON’T RECEIVE THIS GIFT AND PUT THE OTHER CARS DOWN!”
And I woke at 4:00 am with this encounter on my mind.
I lie in bed staring at the ceiling fan and reminisced. Our foster-love is at the last of her weekend visits with her birth mom before her full return. I am not stressed or worried, she will be well cared for, adored.
But I am sad.
She has been radiant sunshine, pure joy.
I have to let go.
As my mind created an elaborate web of outlandish hypothetical scenarios where I will always know this angel baby, the Hotwheels story pushed its way through to the front of my busy brain.
I remember the frustration I felt when Sam wouldn’t let go of the matchbox cars, two tiny things that held him back from bigger blessings.
Sure, I can see where that applies to toy race cars, but this child? This little flower child… I don’t want her to go.
Certainly, it is bittersweet. I am most happy for her birth family. And truth be told, this is what I signed up for, to help the least of these… while praying for restoration.
I am a believer in restoration, or I am not.
I can’t be both.
And I serve a God of restoration… I want what He wants. I want His will. And His will? His will is Jesus. He wants Jesus for everyone involved.
I want this too.
[clickToTweet tweet=”I want what He wants. I want His will. And His will? His will is #Jesus. ” quote=”I want what He wants. I want His will. And His will? His will is #Jesus. “]
Still, empty arms and an empty crib… a tiny sock here, a wee pink hair bow – these little mementos that will randomly appear, will draw blood. Eventually, most certainly they won’t bring tears to my eyes or a lump in my throat. Letting go of a blue-eyed creature I have diligently cared for 18-months? Indeed, there will be a significant grieving period.
Memories wrestled in my brain for the lead. And suddenly I could see myself curled up in a ball in the middle of the night, sobbing. The memory flashed the fresh pain of the moment 6-years ago. A phone call from our adoption agency had notified us a young birth family had picked us for their baby. We had been ecstatic. We would name the infant boy, due in just 10 days, Noah.
But after a celebratory dinner and telling our other children the big news, something wasn’t sitting right with me.
I knew Noah wasn’t our baby. The birth parents had lofty expectations and lived in the same town as us. After hearing the description of them, I knew that I had seen them around town. They were homeless and lived under a bridge near the grocery store where I shopped. I was most convicted, how could I honor Noahs’ parents as I drove past them daily, with their son in my car, as they begged for money on a street corner? The birth father wanted weekly visits. He was over 6’5”, 350 pounds, with a history of violence. What if I ran into him? What if he demanded to see the baby? What if he just took the baby?
Noah needed to be placed in a different city.
I grieved that baby who had only been “ours” for about 7 hours. I ached to hold him and to know him.
I remember that night on the couch, I had a very vivid dream I was handing a little blue bundle to Jesus and walking away.
27 days later I was handed a little blue bundle. As I stroked a velvety brown cheek and the silky black hair of a 6-pound stranger, now my son, I purred, “Hello Sam, I am your mommy.”
Had I not emptied my hands and trusted – the next fantastic thing… would not have happened.
If I actually believe in the God of restoration, I must believe He has good things in mind.
And I mean really believe. Not “I believe He exists.” But instead, “I believe He is actively present and moving in my life, and the lives of our foster-love and her parents.”
I actually believe He means no harm.
I fully believe … all things will work together for His glory.
I cannot manifest peace by my own accord.
Believe me, I have tried. No, grief is not a lack of faith. It is an emotion to celebrate a significant loss. I realize now, I can entirely grieve and still be overcome with peace.
I picture myself handing Jesus a little flower child, I empty my hands and trust Him to fill them.
To this God, my God of restoration, I simply pray, “Here I am Lord. Restore me.”
And then all I have to do is… believe.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19
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