Surrender: Into the Arms of God

Fully embracing the mundanity of my middle-aged life, I watched a documentary about an octopus. I won’t get into the details because you too may be interested in octopi documentaries so I don’t want to spoil anything. Yet one of the most interesting things I learned is that after an octopus lays her eggs, she quits eating and wastes away. By the time the eggs hatch, she dies. It’s like a Disney movie where the mom always dies and there’s an orphan having a coming of age adventure with lots of catchy songs that get stuck in your head.

For days, I kept thinking of the octopus laying there protecting her clutch of eggs while succumbing to starvation. I don’t know the biological reason for this. I just know that parenting in the later years feels like a separation comparable to death. And I apologize if that feels too dramatic for either a documentary or a Disney movie, but parenting during these years of increasing independence requires me to let go of all the details I have spent almost 20 years shaping. Having the privilege of being a mother has been the great honor of my life. As any mother knows, it requires stretching in ways that at times felt impossible. My role now is not so much to stretch but to contract, to loosen the grip on one of my greatest treasures so that the lull of life’s tide can carry him in a new direction. It feels counter to every instinct in my body. Yet, I understand that this has been my job all along – to give everything I could for him not because he is mine but so that the world can someday be his.

And of all this, makes me think of my faith. It helps me to understand how big God’s love is for us. It reminds me of how important it is to God that we use our free will to do good in the world. It gives me a greater appreciation of the unfathomable sacrifice God made so that I may know redemption. It allows me to understand love on a deeper level than joy. Letting go, surrender, and not checking the stalking app I installed on my college-age son’s phone to see if he has come home from a night out, is all drawing me closer to God. It helps me to know him in a different way and makes me want to please him more. I understand better what it means to be a beloved child of God – how much sin hurts him, the depths of his generosity and mercy, and his great hope in every single one of us.

While at one time I used to decide what my son wore and ate, what he listened to and what he watched, and who he spent his time with and for how long, that is no longer my role. Instead, I trust God with the life of this ever-precious child that he let me borrow for some of the very best years of my life. It’s because of that trust that I realize that perhaps I am not like the octopus at all. Surrendering to God, even that which is most precious to us is never a death but a gateway to a new life. Arm by arm, I am learning to let go so my son can write his own coming of age story.

May it end with happily ever after or at least a really interesting documentary.

Hi all~ It doesn’t matter what stage of parenting you are in or even if you are a parent at all, this is really about what an amazing father God is to each of us. It really is astounding to get a better glimpse of his sacrificial and unconditional love.  What makes you think of how big God’s love is? And while I am like a cat and I don’t like to get wet, it was incredible to see the stunning cinematography of life in the ocean. Again, only our God could have created that. He gave us so much to marvel at in this world. What will you marvel today? ~ love, Lara

Read more: Forgiveness: Or are you comfortable with the pain?

10 thoughts on “Surrender: Into the Arms of God

  • September 1, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    So beautifully written. You took the words right out of my month and validated my feelings as my children get older and I have to let go. Thank you so much.

    • September 1, 2021 at 6:00 pm

      I know it feels like it is my new mantra! Comforting to know we are in it together!

  • August 31, 2021 at 7:57 am

    Love this so. It is SO HARD to parent this age of letting go – into the scary & unknown. May we remember that God has got them and loves them even more than we do.

    • September 1, 2021 at 5:58 pm

      Amen! Hard to believe he loves them more but what a comforting thought!

  • August 31, 2021 at 7:41 am

    Thank you so much for posting this! The analogy of the octopus is great. There are many, many parents of adult children who have left the faith and given themselves over to the ways of the world and the tricks of the devil, and there is nothing we parents can do about it. Except to pray of course. And surrender day after day, giving our trust to the Lord, knowing that he will have the victory in their lives ultimately. It’s a painful period, the hardest stage of parenting, because we can no longer influence this type of adult child. Do you know of any online support groups of parents of adult children who have become worldly?

    • September 1, 2021 at 6:04 pm

      I agree, Terry. I think it’s a huge fear for all of us Christian moms. I actually don’t know any such support groups. It’s always so strange to me having gone to Catholic grade school and high school – how many of my peers have gone away from faith entirely. Prayer is the greatest weapon we have when it comes to surrendering and I find I am really relying on mine!

  • August 31, 2021 at 6:12 am

    Good Morning, Lara! Thank you for these poignant thoughts of motherhood and transitioning from holding on to letting go. You’ve taken me back to its bittersweetness. I remember the sting.
    My son is now 38, married with his own young children and my heart is full watching them in their hold tight/protect/nurture/teach years. They, too, are looking down the road of eventually letting go. And it’s going so, so quickly. Just like it has for us.
    For me, turning them completely over to God was a tremendous and powerful comfort.

    Please keep me in the loop with St.Paul’s in Jax Beach when you set your date!
    God bless you and yours!

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  • November 17, 2020 at 11:27 am

    What great thoughts you share with this reflection! I thought of my own role as the mother of my daughter, and hers as the mother of 4 sons. In less than a year the oldest will get his driver’s permit, and she will need to relax her grip on him, and trust God to keep him safe. Thank you for reminding us of our temporary role. May He give us the grace every day to do His will.

    • November 17, 2020 at 1:09 pm

      Thank you, Karen. I always love hearing from those who have already walked the walk. (It’s a great reminder that I will survive!) It’s also nice to think about the role you play in her life now and your grandchildren. All of it gives me hope! And, truly, I feel God’s presence in this season and that is a remarkable grace.

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