Holding Things Loosely

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 2:30 PM

My family and I just returned from our annual trip to San Antonio for New Years Eve. It has become a family tradition that we all love to do. We love getting away, we love the fireworks on New Years Eve, we love the market, we love the river walk and we love the Mexican food on the river.

The river walk is a beautiful place this time of year with Christmas lights giving romance and color to the surrounding area. As much as I like the river it does hold a challenge for my youngest children. Once again I must use Caleb as my illustration for this devotional; he seems to be getting a lot of devotional space lately.

Caleb is an excitable kind of guy, he loves to chase birds and dart out of nowhere in places he really does not need to. A river is a very inviting place for him, especially one with ducks and boats going by. Even worse is the fact that around most of the river walk in San Antonio there is little or no railing separating you from the river. It is an accident waiting to happen for old and young alike.

All of this makes it very important for Caleb’s hand to be held at all times while on the river. As he walked we would trade out holding his hand and while it was my turn once I received a lesson in holding things loosely.

If I held his hand too tight it would bother him as it should have and he would pull back and try to get out of your death grip. If I held his hand to loose he would be able to dart wherever he wanted to without me having any control at all. In that case I might as well not have been holding it at all.

I had to find a happy medium, one that was tight enough for control but loose enough to allow him some freedom of movement. I found that special touch by holding his hand just firm enough to be able to connect quickly without squeezing the life out of him.

I find that like Caleb’s hand I tend to go to the extremes in life especially in regards to my children. A part of me wants to tighten the grip; hold on tight and micro-manage every aspect of their life. Of course we do this out of love. We want them to be safe, we want them to have the right friends, and we want them to suffer no pain. So we hold on tight and pull them in whenever we see danger.

The danger in this is that they like Caleb will many times pull back and rebel against such authority and lack of freedom. Leading them into the very danger we held on tight to them in hopes of avoiding.

Some go the other extreme handling things too loose with little control. They figure that children can learn by making mistakes. They claim that the freedom is good for them no matter what the danger. I have seen this in action many times as young teenagers are allowed to run free and make adult decisions that lead to serious consequences.

Everyone needs some one to be accountable to. All of us need some control in our lives and it is far better to learn from others mistakes as opposed to our own, no matter what the age. Experience is a great teacher but we all need a little hand holding no matter if we like to admit it or not.

So we walk the balance between too tight and too loose. Here are two things to keep in mind as we walk the tight rope that is parenthood:

  1. God created each child different; some need a tight grip while others respond better with a loose grip. You have to know your child, make sure you do.
  2. Most grips’ need to be loosened slowly. If you let loose too fast they jerk back and fall in the river. Allow for responsibility to be earned by trustworthy and mature behavior.

Over the next 12 months my grip will be greatly tested. I will have one child getting married, one going off to college in a city several hours away, and one graduating from high school who wants to go on mission trips in places I did not know existed. I will have to hold them loosely while eventually letting go.

If you have been blessed with children you have either already walked the road I am walking or are walking it with me. Children are a God sized task requiring a great deal of love, time and mostly prayer.

Word of caution: watch your grip.

Scripture: 6:1-4, “Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.” Fathers, don exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” The Message

Prayer: Dear Father, It is hard to be a parent, we seek your help in doing a job that honors you. We know you give us the strength and wisdom so we thank you for it, remind us to lean on that strength daily. We thank you for the gift that children are and we ask all these things in the name of Christ, Amen.

all simple/truths are written by richard harris

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