Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Letting Go of What I Cannot Hold

In the course of dealing with my son’s substance abuse issues, we have worked with a counselor. On more than one occasion, he has told me that I have to get myself ready to let go of my son. I heard those words and I thought to myself, “well, duh, you little whippersnapper. That’s life. The time comes when we all have to let go of our children.” I have an older daughter, so I have some experience in letting go. I have a daughter who is a freshman in high school, and I know the time is flying by, and soon I will have to let her go as well. I thought the counselor meant letting go in terms of not smothering my son, of allowing him to grow up---in the normal sense of letting go of a child who is well raised and prepared, as much as one can be prepared, with some semblance of a firm foundation under their feet.

The young counselor spoke to me in a tone of urgency that I could never quite understand. Now I think he meant I have to let go in terms of letting go of whatever dreams and hopes I may have once had for my son. In other words, this will not be a joyous process of letting go. It will be a sad letting go, as in turning him loose from the nest and allowing him to fall if he cannot or will not fly (metaphorically speaking), the kind of letting go that comes from me realizing I can no longer carry my son’s weight. It is a letting go that knows my child lives very close to the edge, knows I may lose him in the pit, at least for a time. It is a letting go that comes from me finally realizing that I can not save my son, no matter how many hours I spend sitting with him while he passes through the shakes of coming down off of God knows what, no matter how many times I listen patiently to the stories and the promises and the regrets, no matter how hard I love him and try to hold him tightly in my hand.

But I am not quite there yet. I want to let go him with love, not with a heart filled with anger and resentment. I want to let go with the knowledge that my job is done and not with a sense that I am giving up.

And when I have let him go, though I will still love him fiercely, I will remember that it has never really been me who held him all along. He has been in stronger hands than mine from the beginning.


  1. This is heart rending, Annie. You wrote it beautifully. What a road you're on. I can't even imagine.
    You're both in strong hands, I pray your son does fly.

  2. Amen Annie, Amen. How powerful and painful. And I will pray for you, for the strength, courage and wisdom to get through this. Ditto with the captain, you are indeed strong....I wish for you peace in your heart.

  3. Beautiful words. Thank you.

  4. You say it all in your final paragraph, Annie. I have always thought those final words spoke in "A River Runs Through It" ful of God's heart: "Each of us here today will look upon a loved one in need and ask ourself the same question: We are willing to help, Lord; but what, if anything, is needed? If the Word is true, we can seldom help those who are closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourself to give, or that which we have to give is not wanted...And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them. We can love them completely, without completely understanding." It goes on to explain the film's title. I like it all, for it speaks to me of laying our loved ones in His arms, which is the "no greater" things we can do. Peace, my friend...

  5. I am going to add my 2 bits. I teach in my class about the family and the structure. We raise our children to be safe and loved. They count on that. But with substance abuse, that can be damaging. You have to let him go with hope. The counselor is asking you to be willing to let your child fall....all of the way without the net. Sometimes that is what saves a the hitting bottom. We as parents rarely let our children fall like that. As people, we rarely make changes unless we have to. We have to be out of our own comfort zone. You have to trust God enough to let your child hit rock bottom. When he does that, then is when you will see him begin to search. At the bottom is the place that we will reach out to God. You are in my prayers. I know that this is not an easy place for you. I also know that you trust your God enough to know that this is for the best.

  6. oh, my dear friend annie. how my heart aches with understanding for the place you are. how you know i have walked that same sad road. it was when my precious son was only 15 and i didn't know if he was dead or alive every night as i laid my head down to sleep. the agony of it. i so hear your mama's heart. no mother should ever have to walk that road.

    i often think of the picture you posted several weeks (if not months) ago of him walking down the path at his grandfather's.

    annie ... when we let go, we must always remember that we let go right into the Father's capable strong Hand. He will keep your precious boy. He is faithful.

    i submit to you a Scripture i clung to for the five years my precious Robby was missing .. may you find the comfort in it that i did:

    Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.

    And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.

    i pray for your precious child, annie. *gentle, motherly understanding hugs*

  7. sorry, forgot to post the reference ... Jeremiah 31:16-17

  8. Letting go of the dreams is the hard part.

    When my firt child died, it was the dreams I had of his life that hurt.

    When I came to grips with my two other children's mental limitations, again it was my dreams that had to be given up.

    But, I am the Lord's servant. I will do whatever He asks.


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