I looked out the kitchen window and noticed how big the little oak tree had grown. It suddenly towered over the house, as if it had always been stretching its arms up that high. It had grown tall, like my son. It was a gift in honor of his birth, and it had been growing for nearly 16 years.
The little oak had been played under and climbed in, its branches shading our children as their little legs pumped the swings on the wooden play set that was built for them by their dad and grandfather. Those swings were long gone now, and I couldn’t even find the two dips in the ground where their precious little feet had pushed the dirt high in the air as they giggled and played and swung to their hearts’ content.
I sighed as I wondered where all the time had gone. It seemed just a few days ago that my toddler son was riding up and down the porch on his scooter, the little plastic tires clunking away on the wooden floorboards. It sounded like a distant rumble of thunder as I listened from the kitchen.
His older sister’s quiet ways echoed to me from a past that seemed so recent. She had filled her days with drawing and reading and painting outside on the easel. The days of play dough and peanut butter sandwiches had turned into a rush of classwork, recitals, scout trips, and college applications in just the blink of an eye. My heart felt wistful and sad.
Life was moving me into a new season. Today the letting go was hard and seemed to grow bigger.
But I remembered . . . I had already been letting go for a long time.
Every day had held a little letting go as I watched my children grow older and move a little bit further into becoming the persons God was growing them to be. Each step they took was another move toward independence. It was supposed to be that way. I’d let go of friends, too, as we’d moved in and out of each others’ lives while navigating changing seasons of our own. And one Christmas Day my mother, my sister, and I sat next to each other in a hospital room. We held my father’s hands and, for just the briefest of moments, all four of us had touched eternity together as he quietly drifted away.
I wonder, in the letting go, can we stand tall, like the little oak tree, silent and strong, all grown up, with arms lifted high? Can we let go of our own ideas of how we think things ought to be and learn to trust God instead? Can we treasure the past instead of only missing it?
May we let go of what we are holding on to so tightly and find the courage to look forward to what God has in store!
These changing seasons of life are full of heartache and joy, laughter and tears, all wrapped up together in a bittersweet sort of way. You and I, we’ve made it through many such seasons and we’ve come out of them braver and stronger. None of us knows what the future holds, but when we raise our hands high in the letting go, we’ll find ourselves looking upward to Jesus.
He’s the One who is able to lead us through the heartaches and triumphs of the living, the loving, and the letting go.
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We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
So lovely, it spoke to my heart! Thank you for showing God’s grace to me today through this post.
Thank you, Barbara. I’m so happy that it encouraged you! Blessings!
Michele Morin says
Leslie, what a gift to find you speaking truth here today — and so relevant to my own days of tall sons and empty swings. Thank you for the metaphor of the tree and this exhortation to reach high in the letting go.
Believing along with you that the days ahead will be rich and our up-reaching hands will be full.
Sarah Rothbauer says
Perfect read for the morning of my only child’s eighteenth birthday that began with a bit of sadness. Thank you for reminding me to lift my hands high as I look to Jesus. His plans for this young man are always for his good and God’s glory.
Sarah, I’m glad this was encouraging to you on your son’s 18th birthday! That age is such a time of transition in our children’s lives, but you are so right. There are many plans for your son’s good and God’s glory! Blessings!
Thank you for these lovely and so well written thoughts. God has used it to give me an element of peace and direction today….a day of letting go (again). I will be keeping my eyes on Jesus!
Terrie, You are very welcome! God used this in my life when I wrote it, and again today as it is published. He is good like that. Letting go is never easy, but we do find a sense of direction when we keep our eyes on Jesus! Hugs!
Michele, Yes! I’m believing with you in the fact that Jesus fills our arms full when we lift them up in the letting go! Wonderful seeing you here today, Michele. You are always an encouragement to me! Blessings!
Lou Ann Vollmer says
Thank you for this very timely and timeless message. As I step into a new beginning, the ending that made the new beginning possible is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in seeing His plans through. There is excitement for the future intermingled with grief about what is ending. God bless you sister in the letting go.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
There’s something freeing when we literally lift our hands up and let go of whatever we’ve been carrying so tightly. Sometimes I have to do this physical act as I pray in the solitude of my kitchen. It’s my way of saying, “Here God you take _____________” (my children’s hearts, this pain I’m struggling with, this strained relationship, my wanting things my way, the future….). So true that when we look up we look into the hope that is Jesus and when we let go, we lay our burdens at His feet at the cross. He is the author and perfector of our faith. He’s got a handle on the future, so I can confidently let go and let Him. Beautiful reminder this morning.
Bev, That’s so true! We can lift our hands in a spiritual sense, but doing it for real is also very powerful. I do that, too. I loved your phrase “looking into the hope of Jesus.” That’s a beautiful way to put it! Blessings!
One college freshman, just about to come “home” for her first summer.
One high school freshman, wanting to start his driving lessons in the fall.
Shelly, We just had a college freshman walk back through our doors, too. (Oh the joy!) He’ll be with you! Thank you for visiting today! Blessings!
You have shared what’s been coming at me faster than I can keep up. Then it dawned on me just before I read this, that letting go feels somewhat like grief. What once was will be no longer. But with the Lord’s grace I know I will make it through.
Thank-you for sharing your beautiful heartfelt words.
Blessings to all,
That is so very true. It comes in waves and overtakes you when you least expect it. It is a type of grieving. Thankfully, His grace is enough to cover it and help us through. Thank you for your kind words and for commenting today. Blessings!
Leslie, what beautiful words to read this morning. Oh for the grace to “let go” well. Thank you for sharing, sister. ((hug))
Hugs back to you! Thank you for always being so encouraging! Blessings!
For some reason, I am unable to see comments here at the moment. I can, however see them through email! I am reading every one and appreciate each one of you! I’m working on figuring out the glitch and will respond to each of you individually as soon as possible! Blessings!
There you all are!!! I just needed to subscribe. : )
Elizabeth Taylor says
Thank you for speaking beautifully to our hearts this day. Your words have helped my heart be tendered by the love and grace of God, and to be drawn nearer to Him in these changing seasons of life. He is truly our loving and faithful anchor through the all:)
Thank you for sharing such kind words. He is so good to draw us and send us the words we need and just when we need them. Blessings to you!
So beautifully expressed. Indeed in the letting go my hands are empty to hold onto my beloved Lord and to receive his promises. May God’s blessings overtake you and your family.
Thank you so much for the kind words. Blessings back to you and your family as well!
Thank you for this post. It has encouraged my heart this morning. Blessings to you and your family
I am so glad you felt encouraged! Thank you for reading and blessings back!
Thank you for your words of encpuragement and reminder of God’s love. So perfect to read the day after my mom’s memorial.
Bless your heart. I’m going to stop right now and say a prayer for you and your family. I am so glad this touched your heart today as you say goodbye to your precious mother.
Rebecca L Jones says
How true, if we could only let go of all the worry, fears, regets, as we are growing and letting go of one season into another.
It’s a struggle for sure, Rebecca. He helps us though! Thank you for reading and commenting today. Blessings!
Nancy Ruegg says
Just yesterday I watched our four-month old granddaughter arch her back and reach up and over in order to turn from her back to her stomach. We celebrated this milestone, even though we know each one leads this little babe down the path away from us–like all the little ones before her. But you’ve provided positive direction for our attitudes as we lament the passage of time: 1) New seasons offer new joys. 2) We get to see God’s plan unfold for each child. 3) Instead of missing the past and fearing the future, we can treasure the past and anticipate the future. 4) We have the privilege to witness Jesus at work through the maturation process. 5) Letting go is part of the perfecting of our faith. Wise words, Leslie!
How sweet that you shared that first milestone. Each one is precious. Thank you for reading and for the kind words! Blessings!
Summer Rae says
Dear Miss Leslie,
My phone notified me when this was published; so, I opened the article and started reading. But the house was busy and I was exhausted which resulted in me putting my phone down. Tonight when I returned to your post and continued reading I realized why I didn’t get back to it until now… I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t had a certain conversation, and various other happenings, yet. I would have seen it with different eyes or it’s impression on me would have been different. I always felt like the one that had to make everyone happy… as I am growing I am learning that it is okay (and necessary) to set boundaries with family members or long-term “friends” if they are harmful to you in any way. Thank you for your encouragement in letting go and showing that it will be okay and that it is a life practice. Such blessed timing, I pray your day is blessed as well!
This side of Heaven,
Thank you so much for sharing that. God’s timing truly is perfect. I think it shows His incredible care and love for us when He orchestrates things like that. It’s so encouraging to hear how He did that for you today. Blessings!
Beautiful. This speaks to me right where I’m at, as my youngest graduates high school in two weeks. Thank you 🙂
I know what that feels like! This article was actually written just a little bit after my oldest graduated from high school. God always meets us right where we are. Blessings to you and your graduate!
Thanks you for sharing. Lord I receive grace to “let go” of the past, my fears, my worries, my pains, the circumstances staring at me I can’t control and I embrace whatever the future holds. Help me keep my eyes on you LORD rather than what I see that makes me weary and send me help in human form and in every area I need you today LORD as I raise my hands in surrender and keep my eyes on you LORD…
What a beautiful and heart felt prayer! Thank you for sharing it today!
Thanks for these encouraging words.I use to have so many regrets about my past. My childhood was really terrible. Anytime I look back I always wished nothing of that ever happened. But I now have peace of mind coz I have Christ the author and perfecter of my faith. I have no regret coz I’m now new in Christ. Thanks
Amen! You are His and He is the Great Perfecter! I can see your strength and love for Him shining through in your comments! Thank you for reading. I am so glad you were encouraged!
I just wanted to thank you for this post. I’ve been struggling with this for about four months now. We have a wonderful little girl that is almost 4, a 7 yr. old & a 15 yr. old. However, our baby is going back to her birth mother this summer and I feel like my family is being torn apart. The mother in me understands she is ready and I will be there for her but the mom in me wants to keep her. I am grateful for my sons, but when the baby came that I didn’t even had to birth I loved her instantly. The only good thing is she is my husband’s grandchild so she will always be a part of our lives. I know that God’s grace is sufficient.
Renee Meyer says
That is some hard stuff Terence. Praying with you, trusting Jesus to hold you close and be near to each in your precious family.
That is so hard. I’m sorry for how hard this is for you. I will write your name down and I will remember to pray for you and your family. But God. He can help you through this and He’s seen to it that you will be able to continue to be a able to see her and participate in her life. The love you have given her all this time will always be a part of her heart. I’ll pray you will feel Him lifting your arms up for you when you feel unable to do so yourself. “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you. Do not fear; I will help you.” – Isaiah 41:13, NIV
Renee Meyer says
I thought I was clicking on Today’s InCourage post (5/22), but must have been in an older email that I’d missed… And it feels like I was *supposed* to read this today. Thank you for your beautiful words, and the reminder to treasure the past rather than mourn. We are a year away from graduation and sending my first out into the world, and the echoes of his childhood seem loud. It’s tempting to live in the past or fear the future rather than live moment by moment in God’s NOW. Thanks for this!
God’s timing is perfect! I’m love what you said about living in God’s NOW. That’s priceless! Blessings to you as you walk through this season of transition.
Lisa notes says
I love this encouragement to treasure the past and not just resent its fading away. There are so many beautiful memories that we are given from our past! Those are gifts in the present and for the future too.
Thank you for stopping by today! Blessings!
Beth Williams says
God wants us to let go of whatever it is that takes our eyes off Him. He asks us to put our burdens (worry, regrets, fear, Etc.) on Him and take His yoke. He will handle it all. It is very freeing to let go of all that “junk” and give it to Him. It can still be bittersweet when letting go. Great to see your children grow & mature, but sad in their not needing you anymore. Lift your hands high in the air and let go of all that stuff and look into the hope that is Jesus!
Amen, Beth! Thank you for visiting and reading today!
I read this as I was catching up on several days of missed posts. Life has been incredibly busy in our household lately. One college freshman returning for the summer and our oldest son graduating from college. The content is so applicable to my life right now! I am going through a difficult season of change and letting go – again! Our son will be home for a few weeks and then he will relocate to another state for his new job assignment. This post was so encouraging to me. Thank you for your insights and for the reminder that we are releasing our children into God’s very capable hands. “He’s the One who is able to lead us through the heartaches and triumphs of the living, the loving, and the letting go.” God bless you!
Thank you so much for the kind words. I wrote this article as my oldest was graduating from high school and preparing to move to another town for college. It’s was a time of transition that I’m sure will keep coming around for awhile at my house. I am so glad that you found this encouraging and I really appreciate your comments! Blessings to you and your family!
Thank you for your wise and encouraging words. I liked ,”Can we treasure the past instead of just missing it?” I find myself sometimes missing simpler times when all my children were younger, but your words have helped me see I need to treasure that and look forward to what God wants to do in my life now. Even though things aren’t the way I envisioned they would be when I was a young mom, God can and is working and moving in our family. I don’t want to miss that!
Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you found this encouraging! Just like you, I have those days were I miss the simpler days of childhood, but there is so much to look forward to. I have to keep reminding myself of that, too (pretty much every day during this time of transition as our children grow up into whatever God has next for them)! Blessings!