I’ll never forget the day B was born. Holding her for the first time I was completely smitten! I was captivated — and indeed overwhelmed — by the realization that she was mine. This perfect, beautiful, baby girl was given by God to me! I relished the thought that I was to be her sole protector and provider.
Admiring her precious newborn body, my eyes came to rest on her tiny fingers. When my glance landed upon her left ring finger I distinctly remember welling up with tears of sadness, dreading the day some man would snatch her away from me.
8,047 days later, I walked that same little girl down a long aisle to give her away to T. This moment — like the previous — was accompanied by tears, but these were not tears of sadness, but rather joy.
The ease with which I gave her away to T would have shocked my “new dad” self of 22 years ago. How did I attain this ability to hand her over so readily, something which was formerly unthinkable? This is what I want to reflect on today.
- The primary reason I could let her go, I think, was my gradual realization over the years that most of what I used to claim as my own was really not mine at all. I came to see that all of the people and things in my life are mere temporary entrustments, not entitlements. These I should steward well and cherish dearly, but never presume they would always be mine to keep. I’ve tried to remind myself of this in my prayers for my family, “…that I would shepherd and treasure them more and more, yet hold them looser and looser.” I think this practice of “holding loosely” has helped me in numerous ways over the years including dealing with my birth-mom’s death and letting both girls leave home to go off to college. It wasn’t unusual for my family to hear these words from me: “I don’t need you….but I sure do want you!” They understood.
- Another reason for my change of perspective I think has to do with my growing pursuit of contentment. I’m learning to trust God with what He brings my way and not make demands of him for the future. In that sense I want to fully live in the present, not in the past or in the future.
- I’m pretty sure that on that first day with B I was entirely focused on what was best for me. That has changed. As I’ve gotten to know her and love her for who she is and learn of her passions and interests and loves it motivates me to focus on what’s best for her. My delight is now wrapped up in hers, so giving her to T was a joy. The tears I shed on her wedding day were not from a sense of my loss, but rather came from the realization of how much we mean to each other and how excited I was for her future with T.
- Additionally, it helped a lot that B chose a godly young man who I am confident will protect and provide for her as well as I ever could have. And knowing that her dream is to someday move to a needy and potentially hostile country somewhere on the other side of the world it’s nice to know she’ll have her own bodyguard!
- Finally, the Frozen song “Let it Go” had a huge influence on my ability to release her to T’s care. Nope, that one’s a lie.