Letting Go

This summer my daughter turned 16. As it happens, her summer has included a number of trips, only one of which – our week on the north shore of Lake Superior – included my husband and me. She went to Newfoundland to sing at a choir festival, on a parish mission trip to Michigan, is just getting back from a trip to the western part of Minnesota for the All-State Women’s Choir, and before her high school year begins, she will make her first college visit.

It is always with a certain amount of anxiety that I watch her go off without me. I console myself that she is very mature, had good judgment and is with adult chaperones, but I still worry about something happening to her. (Let’s face it: as mature as she is, there will be times that the temptation to do something unwise will just be too great….something I know from my own experience.) Part of me wants to hold her close and not let her get too far from me. Nonetheless, I let her go.

As I was sitting in church thinking about this, I thought how similar my experience with my daughter is to God’s experience with us. God could have created us so that we acted as marionettes, with God pulling all of the strings, making all the choices for us. Instead, God gave us freedom, the free will to make our own choices. And God did so knowing that sometimes we’d wander far away and sometimes we’d do foolish and unwise things that are hurtful to ourselves. Given that God loves us even more than I love my daughter, I imagine that it must be difficult for God to watch us get hurt through our acts and the acts of others.

Yet, God loves us enough to watch it happen. To let us decide for ourselves how to respond to each other, the world and to God. And loves us enough to be by our side no matter what happens. And my greatest consolation is that God is at Elena’s side, whether she is here with me, in Newfoundland, western Minnesota, or anyplace else.