A few weeks ago I attended a women's conference. It was a truly incredible weekend of encouragement for moms. Each time I go, I leave with my passion renewed for mothering and teaching my children. It is the perfect mid-school-year pick-me-up. I went this year with the expectation of hearing some great talks from fellow moms on parenting with purpose, bringing beauty into our family's daily life, and the importance of good literature in shaping our children.
And, as always, the conference delivered on all of those and more. I came home with the desire to have a less chaotic home, to use the nice dishes for my family not just company, to read more good books to the boys, and to spend time alone with God daily. (Just so you know, those are all a work-in-progress! I have yet to successfully and fully implement any of them. One day at a time, my friends.) But the one talk that affected me the most was not from one of those seasoned moms. It was from one of their daughters.
She was a 15 year old amazing young woman who wanted to share her story with us. She told us of the difficult year she had had, how she spent much of it fighting with her parents over a particular subject. She wanted something, but they didn't think it was a good thing for her. After months of arguing over this, her parents finally told her that she could make the decision on one condition...she had to be certain that this was what God wanted her to do. She told us how she prayed and prayed about it, coming to the clear realization that God wanted her to let go of it. She had been holding this in her hand so tightly for so long, and now God was asking her to open her hand. She did, and quickly her relationship with her parents was mended.
The story brought to my mind the picture of a small child who has found a "treasure" and grasps it tightly. As the mom tries to convince the child to open his hand so that she may see the object, he only squeezes tighter. Mom doesn't know what it is. It might be something she will let him keep, it might not. But until he opens his hand for her to make sure it's ok for him, the struggle continues. Anyone with a toddler has experienced this first hand, I am sure!
Isn't that how we are? I find myself holding on to an idea, a desire for something, or a plan so tightly for so long. I am certain this is what my Heavenly Father wants for me, so I squeeze my hand shut around it. I obsess about it. I protect it. I advocate for it. I will not let it go.
The point the young woman was trying to get across to us was that at some point we will have to trust that God is leading our children as well. That we should give them room to seek Him and hear His voice. It was a great message. But I walked away from it with another message as well:
Open your hand.
You see, I had been holding on to something yet again. Through-out my life as a Christian, I have had many opportunities to "give it to God", whatever the "it" of the moment may be. I know in my mind that God loves me and takes care of me. I know that His plan is always so much bigger and better than mine. Yet, I regularly find my heart holding on to something. And here I was again.
Open your hand.
Those three words echoed in my mind and heart and soul for weeks. They still do, in fact. Because, at least for me, opening my hand is something God has to daily remind me to do....sometimes hourly. Actually, if I am brutally honest, there are times when I have to open my hand so often, I feel like I am waving!!!
So what are you holding on to?
A plan? A promise? A hope? A wish?
Whatever it is, it cannot flourish while being smothered in your hand. Let God take it and make it into so much more than you can ever imagine. Release your will into His care.
Open your hand.
In the wise words of the beloved Corrie ten Boom:
"Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open."