Hand in Hand

Photo Credit: Dimitri de Vries

Photo Credit: Dimitri de Vries

How old is too old to hold your mother’s hand?

I find myself pondering this question as I journey through the reality I’m faced with every day but am often too busy to notice — my baby is growing up.

My son Daniel is seven years old, and my hand still instinctively reaches down for his anytime we’re walking together. At the moment, his hand still reaches up for mine. But the day is fast-approaching when this last of our physical bonds will inevitably have to be broken.

By the time Danny turns ten, he’ll start noticing that no one else’s mom is clinging to them like a toddler. A few years after that he’ll be wanting to hold some other girl’s hand, and I’m really not ready to venture down that path anytime soon.

I know that on many levels, I’m struggling to allow my son the freedom he needs to navigate the world on his own. Like every other child, he’s going to have to fall down in order to learn how to get back up. It’s just such a scary place out there for little ones!

Despite the truth of that statement, it’s actually the root of my problem: Daniel is not really a little one anymore. It’s time for me to face the fact that my son is outgrowing me faster than he’s outgrowing his sneakers. My days are numbered.

I fear what will happen to him when I let go of his hand, and where he’ll go without the firm safety of my grip. I can’t choose his destination or ensure that he will get there on time. I can’t map out his route or make sure he doesn’t take a wrong turn. I need him to somehow get from point A to point B without his hand in mine to keep him on course.

And where exactly is point B? Where do I want my son to go in life? Beyond college, beyond career, beyond success, beyond marriage, beyond children...as a mother, what is my greatest aspiration for my child?

When it comes down to it, all I really want is for Daniel to go to heaven. I want my son to know and love Jesus Christ and to spend eternal life with Him. As I pinpointed and verbalized my greatest aspiration, Jesus gently reminded me that I can no more get Daniel into heaven than I can get him into Harvard.

I can’t, but He can.

My job, as a loving parent, is to do my best to steer my son in the right direction while he is still willing to hold my hand; and then let go when it’s time for him to pursue life on his own. The greatest gift I can give my child is a foundation of faith that will lead him to take Christ’s hand and place his trust in Him.

I know in my heart that Jesus will accompany Daniel through every step of life’s journey, but it will be much easier if he knows whose hand to reach up for when he needs guidance or support. When my little boy seems to be quite lost in the world, I’ll just have to have faith in Jesus’ unfailing sense of direction.

This heavenly presence gives me comfort as I mourn the loss of that little hand in mine. I’m reminded to rejoice that Danny is able to motor on his own. I’m also forced to recognize that I, too, need a little hand holding myself.

As we approach the end of our Lenten journey, I have to admit that I’ve been stumbling for one reason or another almost the entire time. It’s enlightening to realize that my spiritual movement is so childlike, and I’m led to wonder if perhaps God intended it to be so.

Jesus understands my dependence on Him better than I do. I’m like a toddler stubbornly insisting that “I can do it myself.” I’m convinced that I know a better way, or a faster way, or an easier way to get to where I want to go. But I’ll never get there, because I’m so easily distracted by everything I encounter along the way.

God’s infinite patience never ceases to amaze me. Every time I think I’ve fallen too far behind to catch up, He’s right there next to me encouraging me to try again. As a grown-up, I feel like I’m expected to walk on my own, but the reality is I will never outgrow the need to hold His hand.

Jesus holds my hand so that we might walk together. A shared journey goes by much faster and is more enjoyable than one passed alone. When I walk with Him, every roadblock that would seem to slow me down or hold me back is simply an opportunity for the two of us to explore another path.

With Easter just a week away, I’m still struggling to make it to where I originally set out to go on Ash Wednesday. I find myself once again dusting myself off after a fall and reaching up for Jesus’ hand. I can tell He’s happy to hold it, with a bounce in His step and no signs of impatience or frustration on His face.

As I ponder the source of His smile, He answers my unspoken question. “Did you know that Easter isn’t the end of our journey?

I love walking with you. And the Resurrection, my dear, is only just the beginning.

So let’s keep walking, hand in hand.”

Yet I am always with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward You will take me into glory.

Psalm 73: 23-24