She was a tiny force of determination and nothing would stop her from jumping off the high dive! Her polite assertiveness persuaded even me. Maybe she really did want to jump. As I climbed up the ladder of the high dive behind my two-year-old daughter, I thought that she would realize how different it is looking down at the water below, fear would convince her to not jump, and we could climb down. What happened next began to shape my heart and the years of being her mother – how I would mother her and why I would be THAT mother. With all the confidence that her tiny body could muster, she walked to the edge of the high dive and then looked up at me. I realized in those few seconds that she was going to jump. I had to think fast and try my best to prepare her. I told her that when she jumped she would sink, but not to worry, I was jumping right behind her and would pull her up out of the water. She could not swim, yet had complete trust. Without flinching, she jumped! I jumped. She hit the water. I hit the water. She sunk. I sank to her and lifted her above the water. We both exhaled and she said, “Again!” By the end of the day, she was swimming. She had discovered freedom in water, deep water, all because she chose to be brave.
6,224 have passed since I laid eyes on my daughter for the first time. Those first few days were a blur and yet I remember every moment vividly. The moment that made the deepest impact on my heart is the moment I held her and admitting to my soul, she is not mine to keep. I chose to be the kind of mom that anticipated the letting go. Reminding myself that God’s plan for her is far better than my preferences or my ways. Each time adversity came into her life, I had to let go of my tendency to want to make it better or easy. If I am going to claim I believe James 1:2-4, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing”, then I must act out my belief with action and choose to trust the Lord as He allows unwanted circumstances into her life. I didn’t want to be the mom that underestimated the daughter God gave me. I will admit, I underestimated her that day on the high dive. I really thought she would not go through with jumping, she would give in to fear. That day at the pool was a great moment for me too. I realized I did not need to underestimate God and how He created her to fit the plans He has for her.
He created her to jump. He created her to swim in deep waters. Jesus says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Who am I to hinder her from being who God created her to be because I don’t want to let go? While I could choose my version of comfortable in how I mother my daughter and only encourage her to swim in the shallow end and never climb to great heights and jump. The challenge I faced years ago as a young mother was either to put action to my belief and mother my daughter to live the abundant life in Christ or give in to cultures guidelines and even the Christian culture of playing it safe while saying I want the abundant life in Christ. Sometimes living the abundant life in Christ is a risk. Sometimes He calls you to jump and swim in depths you cannot imagine.
It’s been years since the high diving experience. As I look back on that day, I also am looking forward. In a matter of weeks, my daughter will leave and move to London for one year to serve as a missionary. As she has been in the process to go to London, some have asked me why I could let her go, or how I can be okay with her going, or will I be alright while she is gone. Each time I am asked those questions or similar ones, my mind immediately replays the day at the high dive. There was one person at the high dive that day that could let her jump or completely hinder her: Me.
It is not my place to get in the way; It is my place to trust the ONE who made her.
She is made for this! I understand Jesus’ mother more (in Luke 2) when she “pondered these things in her heart”. Guess what? I was made for this too. Does my Mama Heart become overwhelmed at times? Yes. Do my eyes tear up when I try to comprehend her not being in our home EVERY. SINGLE. DAY? Yes. Can I imagine life without the smell of nail polish, cookies baking at midnight, her music playing as she gets ready for the day, her random outbursts of side splitting humor, the times she climbs into the bed to snuggle or lays her head on my shoulder for no reason, the arguments with her brother and the hilarious moments with her brother, listening to her talk about the things that have made up the day… I really cannot imagine life without these moments because it is all I have known for so many years. But I also do not want it to remain the same. If I demand she remain with me then I hinder her from living out the plan God has had for her since day one.
One question that has been asked often is how I feel about her going overseas with all the danger in this world, especially since London has seen its share of heightened attacks. The reality we live with every day is the dangers in this world. While I never want anything harmful to happen to anyone, that is not the reality we live in. I definitely do not want anything to happen to my daughter! I have had my moments of fear and insecurity regarding this very issue. It would be crazy if I did not experience that as her mother. The Lord has been so faithful to me during those times. He assures me that He has ordained her days and He has a plan for each one of those days that He has ordained. Again, my faith is faced with reality. Joshua 24:15 demands a choice. “…choose today whom you will serve…” If I hinder my daughter from following the Lord with complete abandon because I am fearful or insecure then I am communicating that a half-hearted commitment to the Lord is acceptable and I prefer being comfortable over being surrendered. I realized years ago that if I am a mother that hinders then I am a hypocrite. A tough truth that began to transform my perspective and ultimately strengthen my faith. That day is coming and she will board a plane and go. Ultimately, I would not have it any other way, because it has been my heart’s desire for over 6,000 days that she will choose Christ. In choosing Christ this means He leads, she follows, and I let go.
She was put here on purpose to live with a purpose for the One who gives purpose.
I made a decision as a first time mom to be THAT mom, an Acts 1:8 mom, “…And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” I desire to be the mom that understands it is not about me. It is not about my preferences or my comfort. My utmost priority is to let go of my daughter and son so they can go and serve and live the life HE planned for them. My priority is to keep my heart focused on the One who made them for Him. When my daughter made her decision to go to London to serve, she asked me what I thought. I told her it was awesome. When she stated, “It’s so far away”, I replied, that’s what planes are for. Yes, I told her I will miss her more than I can imagine, but I know this is where she is to go. I have desired for her to experience and live the life of John 3:30, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” Through the years the emotional difficulty that I have experienced is the reality of what that means when I parent with that kind of tunnel vision: I am always in process of letting go and knowing God is leading her to the plans and place He has for her.
As He increases in her life, I will decrease also.
This is so similar to the day at the high dive: she knew she had to jump, I didn’t think she would. she trusted I would be there when she went under water into depths she had never experienced, and then she continued to jump and finally she swam. As she became more confident and I let go and let her be free to grow and experience something new and thrilling, she needed me less. Maybe this is what is at the heart of the struggle that is as old as time; mothers want to be needed. Maybe this is why it is tempting to keep them close. Maybe we use the reason we need to protect them when at times we need to let them jump. Maybe we find it difficult to really know what they are capable of because it may not include us being by their side like we prefer. Maybe, just maybe, at the heart of motherhood is God asking us if we trust Him with the greatest gift He has ever given to us. Maybe it’s not the empty nest or the quiet house, or the growing up that we struggle with. Maybe it’s facing our own lack of trust with the One that can truly keep what He has given. Maybe it is coming face to face with our limited ability to protect them and the more we try to protect the more we get in the way of what God is wanting to do in our children’s lives. One of the greatest deceptions I have to be aware of is that I can protect my children better than God and I know what is better for them. Ultimately, this leads to having my children as my idol, an idol I can justify very well. How I am called and led to protect my children must be Holy Spirit led. The Holy Spirit will alway lead me to trust the Lord with each area of parenting. The protection that is Spirit led will also give me the courage to let go and trust His plans for my children.
For years I have claimed to live by James, 1:2-4, Acts 1:8, and John 3:30. When I realized I also needed to parent with these truths as my compass; it challenged me and these truths changed my perspective. She belongs to Him. He has a plan for her. He is enough. This time, it is not me climbing this high dive with her, He is. He is whispering to her soul, when you jump you will sink, but not to worry, I AM jumping right behind you and will pull you up out of the water. You will exhale My joy. Completely trust Me, and you will discover freedom in Me, You will swim in deep water, all because you chose to be brave.
Letting go is one of the hardest things to do, but I know Who grips her with a grace that cannot let go. I can be okay with Him taking her to deep waters, knowing she can live freely and abundantly in Him. I get to watch His plan unfold for her life and that, dear friend, is giving overwhelming joy. My prayer for her is that she will live the words of Jim Elliot,
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose”.
I want her to face trials as her opportunity for joy. I desire that she embrace adversity knowing that adversity produces patience and leads to hope. Most of all, that she will follow her Savior wherever He leads, knowing her life is best hidden in Him.
~to support Meighan as she prepares to serve in London, you can visit Meighan’s Go Fund Me