I’m not sure I like my current season. I am calling it The Season of Letting Go. My friends, those in my age cohort, understand. After spending a lifetime of acquiring—family, friends, hobbies, possessions, you name it—we are now having to let go.
This reality has been hitting me hard this month as we have been spending time with our grands before they return to school. Numbers 1,2,and 3 are already out of college and are now adulting, the older two now married with families of their own. We have been having off-to-college breakfasts with 4,5, and 6 during the last weeks. It’s always hard to say goodbye, even when we are simultaneously excited for their new journeys.
I suppose this letting go thing was driven home most sharply when we said goodbye to our Hannah before she left for Nashville last week. This wasn’t the customary off-to-college goodbye. Yes, she is heading back to Belmont, and I am so happy about that. But she is actually moving to Nashville. I truly believe that Nashville is her place, that she belongs there and will find her true north there. But it is 600 miles away! I can tell you I actually have a physical pain in my chest. But I have to let her go.
I have been incredibly blessed to have kept all my chicks close to the nest. All of our children live near us, and all but one of our nine grands has attended the elementary school that is a couple of blocks from our house. This year for the first time in about 25 years, we will not have a grandchild at that school. The youngest is heading to middle school. They are all flying away, creating lives of their own. And even though I know that is how it should be, it is still hard to let go.
The letting go started some time ago. We Baby Boomers began to lose eyesight, hearing, waistlines, and hair. Now we are letting go of our houses, downsizing into smaller abodes. And those moves require letting go of our carefully collected stuff. We really no longer need the punch bowl and matching cups because now it is our daughters who are hosting the showers, not us. (And by the way, they don’t want our punch bowls!) Most of us have let go of careers, and I have seen how this has been particularly hard on men. There are so many “lasts.” And the thing is, we might not recognize a last when it is occurring. A last trip to the beach, a last pet, a last car, and most of all, a last time to see a loved one.
I have watched some of my friends let go of life as they knew it to become caregivers to a failing spouse. More and more, my friends are being widowed. And all too frequently we are hearing about the death of a high school classmate.
Even though I don’t like it, I think all of this letting go is necessary. We must let go of the people and things that keep us tied to earth, because one day we will be leaving. When God is trying to make a point to me, He often comes at me from different angles. I often say He is a multi-media God. So I wasn’t surprised that we sang I Surrender All yesterday in church. I surrender all. Do I? Everything? I might as well because it all belongs to him anyway. Even the children and grands.
We have a friend, a member of our extended family, who is dying. I have been thinking of all the things he is losing…even the small things. He will never again go outdoors, or have dinner with family. No one had to ask him if he wants to let go of his car. It’s a moot point. But oh, what he will gain when he sees Jesus! Who needs a car when you can have wings?
This is my reminder, what I will gain. As the old hymn says, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.” Those children and grandchildren have never been truly mine, only on loan from God. And the stuff? I won’t need it. I will leave this world the same way I came into it, naked and empty-handed. And the same God who has given me abundantly everything I have needed in this life will give me everything I need in the next. Who knows? There may even be a heavenly punch bowl in my future!