My daughter was four weeks premature. After an unusual and unexpected 24 hours in the hospital, the very first words that entered my head were “She’s mine.” It felt so primal and the instinctual response caught me off guard. I had a strongest urge to protect and preserve this tiny human. In that moment, the briefest of all moments, I felt that she was totally and completely mine.
It wasn’t long afterward that I realized a very difficult truth: Parenting is a process of letting go. From the first time I set my baby down in her crib to the day she walked confidently into a preschool classroom, it has been a process of letting go. It’s not easy. Being a mother is by far the hardest job I’ve ever had. Watching my children grow and knowing that I cannot hold them in my hands forever almost takes my breath away. The fact is I wouldn’t be able to do it if I didn’t have faith in God.
When we let our children go, we can be secure in the knowledge that God loves them and has a purpose for them. Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel, knew this. Even before she conceived him, she dedicated him to the Lord. After years of being childless, being compared to and criticized by her husband’s other wife, Hannah couldn’t take anymore. She cried out to the Lord and made a promise, saying: “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life…” (1 Sam. 1:11, NIV). The Lord remembered her prayer and when Hannah gave birth to a son, she in turn remembered her promise to the Lord. When the child was weaned, she brought him to the Temple and announced: “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord” (1 Sam. 1:27 NIV).
Like Hannah, I prayed for children. They were dreams in my heart long before they were reality in my life. Whether for a family, a job, a home, or something else, when your dreams come true, it is a wonderful feeling. It seems so absurd to let go of something or someone that we have prayed about for years. Letting go is the opposite of what we want to do. That is why it requires great faith in God.
Hannah is my hero. Her faith in God was absolute. She appears never once to have doubted that God would take care of Samuel once she fulfilled her promise and dedicated him back to Him. When her family traveled to the Temple to offer the annual sacrifice, Hannah brought a robe for her boy Samuel (1 Sam. 2:19). As far as we know, that is the only time each year that she saw her son. There was no FaceTime, no Zoom, not even a post office to carry mail back and forth. Hannah trusted that her son was in God’s hands. Every year when the annual sacrifice at the Temple ended, she returned home and once again trusted that Samuel would be fine.
Often letting go is not a one-time event. It’s a continual process. It is not something we can commit to once and never need to do again. Sometimes our faith is tested in this way. I was in my office one morning when the phone rang. It was the daycare director telling me there had been an accident. My daughter was playing outside with some friends and fell on her face. The result was a nosebleed and significant scraping of her nose and lips. When I arrived, she was inconsolable. Nothing like this had ever happened to her in her short life. She spent the rest of the day by my side, slept well at night, and woke up ready to face a new day. It wasn’t until we pulled up to the daycare center that I realized I wasn’t ready to let her go again. After a quick prayer, I held her hand as long as possibly before releasing her into the care of her teachers. Holding back tears, I prayed, “Please take extra good care of her today.” Then I returned to my van and sobbed. My heart ached and I found myself crying out angrily, “Why am I doing this and sending her back to school where she got hurt? Nobody else loves her like I do!” Then I heard God whisper back to my heart, “I do.”
This is what it comes down to: Do we have faith in God’s love? The author of Hebrews states, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). Letting go of someone we love is never easy, but it is easier if we are confident that God loves them more than we do. Because I am confident that God loves my children, I am letting go and watching as they grow into the people that He wants them to be.