Letting go

23 03 2011

It was more a day dream than anything. Or that’s what I thought at the time. It could work, but it would mean a lot of letting go for all of them, and who was I to suggest it? So I didn’t. But I did pray. “Lord, if this is of You, bring it to pass — not the way I imagine it, but the way You want it to be.”

Somehow, somewhere it happens. You don’t notice, between the paper dolls and skinned knees and snuggling into your mom’s lap for bedtime stories and report cards and school plays and first dates and college majors and a wedding and babies, and then you’re the mom kissing skinned knees and telling bedtime stories and going to school plays and graduations and weddings, and can it really be that your babies are all grown up and having babies of their own? Then one day you slow down to catch your breath, and you look at your parents, and you realize they’ve grown old.

I’m living in this ache. My mom is losing her memory. She’s frail and sometimes afraid, and I watch my father keep the vows he made to the bride of his youth, the wild-ish one who won his heart and has held it more than half a century.

The walls were closing in, and something had to change. But who was I to suggest it?

Luke and Sarah lived in a refugee community, a world in need right outside their doorstep, and were preparing to move to Japan as full-time missionaries. They actually planned to go last December and even had plane reservations, but several months before their departure, God gave them clear guidance the timing wasn’t quite right. Her name is Naomi Belle, and she’s due at the end of May.

Since they knew they’d be around a while, Luke mentioned that they hoped to move closer to my parents, and I breathed a prayer, and I asked them. Yes, they said. They would be willing, but would that be best for everyone? God, You know.

I was in town to catch a flight the next morning and had joined them for an evening service. We parted ways in the church parking lot, and I returned to my parents’ house — Mom dozing in front of TV and Dad and I talking in the kitchen, and did I want to see the latest doctor’s report? We sat on the edge of the bed and read the hard words, and I don’t even remember how the conversation went, but something I’d said about navigating unknown territory and God providing when we ask, even when we don’t know what to ask for, it had stuck in my father’s mind. He ventured, and I breathed another prayer and said, “You know that’s not just for Jacob and our family but for everyone who asks Him.” And he was quiet, but hope sparked.

Then, the next morning, in the car on the way to the airport, he hesitated only a moment and then he said it. “Do you think Luke and Sarah would be willing to move in with us? I could clear out the back half of the house and they could have those rooms . . .” and he kept right on, describing my day dream to the last detail.

I listened amazed, and then I told him, and we shared the wonder.

“I think this may be an answer to prayer,” he said. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say those words before.

A couple of weeks ago they moved in. They’re painting and arranging, and life is echoing off walls that have been mostly quiet for a long time. The large central room where my siblings and I played is now their living room. (They opted to keep the carpet we added as teens. “When else in my life will I have orange shag carpet?” Sarah pointed out. Indeed.) My sister’s old bedroom is Luke’s and Sarah’s. And the same crib that many a wee hour I tiptoed to and sang beside and prayed over, and that still holds memories of Naomi’s father — infant smiles in early morning and little arms reaching up to embrace a new day — has been cleaned and reassembled and now stands in my childhood bedroom awaiting sweet new life once again.

It’s a big change for all of them, and I won’t romanticize it, but I also can’t get over this holy sense of eternal purpose and the divine dance. This time to be born and time to die and everything in between, and how life is one letting go after another, but only so our hands will be open to receive the next gift. The galaxies swirl, and the planets spin, and the God who holds all things together with His singing word, also stoops low to visit a kitchen where a trembling woman sits wrestling an unnamed fear, and a grandson reads Words of Life, and a granddaughter-in-law comforts with presence and intercession, and a faithful husband-father-grandfather-great-grandfather receives and recognizes an answer to a barely-believed-possible prayer.

And I, who watch and pray from a distance, live in this exquisite ache, trusting the Always Good — letting go of what was for what is and for the promised joy of what will be. Letting go, not because it’s easy, but because I know He never will.

To read more posts that consider The Practice of Letting Go, visit Ann Voskamp’s site.


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33 responses

23 03 2011
Glynn

Jeanne, you keep writing one profound and beautiful post after another. I’m in awe – and this is, well, this is wonderful.

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Glynn. You’re such a dear soul, it makes me glad to provide you with some wonder.

23 03 2011
Aisling

Blessings on you, Jeanne. I’m living in my childhood home. We live in the upper half, made into an apartment when my parents separated. My mother made a beautiful kitchen out of my old bedroom and I can stand at that beloved window and gaze out at the sea. It’s such a blessing to remain connected to a home that housed so much safety and joy. We’re outgrowing it now and looking at where God might lead. Your post reminds me to trust the Always Good (LOVE that!). Hugs to you and yours,
Miz M

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

I love that you can stand at your window and see what your child eyes saw, and feel all the wonder again. It is a gift. And it’s not easy, the letting go. But I also know that when it’s time to step away from that window, He will open your eyes to the good He gives. Much love to you and that sweet, sweet family. xo

23 03 2011
Debbie Tesch

You usually make me cry and touch my heart with your words. We wanted to care for Barry’s mom after Dad passed away but after trying we were overwhelmed because Mom wouldn’t mind us. She would get up unattended when she said she wouldn’t and if she fell she could bleed to death because of the medication she is on. She is now living in a cozy home with 3 other women and has close friends. God is always good, a Christian friend knew of her and she had an opening just at the right time. I relate so well to your writings, life has changed so much and is speeding by but our LORD never let’s go! Thank you for the reminder. How wonderful to have another granddaughter soon. Blessings! Debbie

23 03 2011
Megan Willome

What a blessing!

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Megan.

23 03 2011
Candy

I am astounded by how our lives parallel here, Jeanne. May God’s words continue to guide our families. Your words are so encouraging. “Live in this exquisite ache….” – you describe it perfectly.

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Yes, may He guide and provide every step of the way. Praying for you, too, dear Candy. What a comfort that He meets us in the ache.

23 03 2011
Billy Coffey

Absolutely. Wonderful.

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Honored. Truly. (Thanks.)

23 03 2011
Deb Martell

So glad to have found you through Mary DeMuth’s tweet 🙂
Lovely words….

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Deb. So pleased you stopped by.

23 03 2011
all shall be well

He is so good………
karen

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Yes, He is. (I love it when you show up with your “all shall be well.” Your presence brings truth wherever you go.)

23 03 2011
Mari-Anna

Achingly beautiful. Thank you. God bless you and yours!

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks so much, Mari-Anna. Blessings to you, too.

23 03 2011
Kath

This is beautiful and the ache is exquisite. Thank you for that second last paragraph.
Kath

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you for listening, Kath. xo

23 03 2011
Susan

Hi Jeanne,
I am so glad I found your blog via Ann Voskamp’s site…you are an exquisitely beautiful writer and I have been so blessed by your gift.
Blessings to you,
Susan

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Welcome, Susan. Thank you again for your kind words here and on your blog. It’s not surprising that friends of Ann would be so lovely. Blessings to you, too. Love, Jeanne

23 03 2011
Ashley

I love you! Loved this.

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

I love you, too! (And I miss you. Hope all is wonderful and well.) Thank you, adorable Ashley.

23 03 2011
Daniel Farrow

Jeanne,

Just so you know, I’m one of the seeming many that has linked to your site from Ann Voskamp’s blog, and I am touched with this post as well. Mainly because I might have to end up moving in with my parents again to take care of my nearly 80 year old father. Thank you for the picture of God’s grace and simple trust you’ve given me in this post.

In Christ’s Love

23 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Praying with you, Daniel, that you’ll have clear guidance and wisdom and much grace as you love your aging father well. Peace of Christ to you.

23 03 2011
Tracy

Awe! Blessings.

24 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Tracy.

23 03 2011
deb@talk at the table

and again
to sit back and think
“who knew?”

again , the miracle.

truly truly beautiful, Jeanne.

24 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, dearest Deb.

Love.

23 03 2011
Ann Kroeker

This is fantastic.

Jeanne, I can’t find your e-mail. Would you send me a note–I have a question to ask you. 🙂

ann AT annkroeker DOT com

24 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Ann. Note sent. 🙂

24 03 2011
Dena Dyer

Wow. Thanks for your words today. I’m writing this with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I, too, am finding that I must “live in this exquisite ache, trusting the Always Good — letting go of what was for what is and for the promised joy of what will be. Letting go, not because it’s easy, but because I know He never will.”

I love your writing and am so thankful you’re in our HC network. 🙂

24 03 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Dena. Grace and peace for your journey through the ache.

I’m thankful to be in the HC network, too. Beautiful, encouraging community. Thanks for making me welcome there.

Love, Jeanne

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