Monday, June 3, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Showing love by letting go when it's time

Love in the Letting Go
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“For everything there is a season …. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away."~Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5-6 (NLT)

I knew this day was coming, and I thought I was ready for it—the day my oldest child, my Cameron, would graduate from high school and prepare to head off to college.

Intellectually I convinced myself this was a good and right thing. In my head, I understood—my children don’t belong to me and are not my possessions. Rather, God blessed me with them to shape them and give them a good foundation so they could spread their wings when the time came and become faithful Christian adults ready to do his work in the world.

Except … I didn’t realize how soon this would come. And I didn’t realize how conflicted I would feel in my heart when that day really did arrive.

All winter and spring I felt unsettled, awkward—it all happened so fast. Those other moms weren’t kidding when they said time flies. Doubts crept in. Did I do right by him? Give him enough time and energy? Savor the little moments as well as the big ones? Did I give him what I’d hoped—a good childhood, a loving home with a present mom, even though I worked full time and our family experienced both divorce and a blended family over the years? Did I give him enough downtime to figure himself out and enough opportunities so he knew what was possible?

Sometime over the last year, I decided Cameron needed to have his own comprehensive childhood photo album. I thought it might be good, as he starts his new chapter, to be able to look back on his life and see where he came from as he thinks about where he’s going.

It took a lot of work, but I put together an album that showcased his entire life, from his infancy to the final weeks of high school. I must have had a thousand pictures when I started laying out the album online using one of those digital photo services that print the photos for you. And even though it ended up being far more expensive than I imagined, I found the gift was priceless—and just as much a gift to me as to him. For I found the crafting of it to be incredibly healing and helpful.

As I selected those pictures and placed them in order on all of those pages, I realized I had there before my eyes visible, documented proof of all the hopes and dreams I had for my child that had come to life. While now, looking back, it feels like everything happened far too fast, I remember things I had forgotten.

All those moments cuddled on the couch with our cats. The soccer games and 5K races and orchestra concerts. The vacations and the family traditions, like decorating Christmas cookies, making gratitude pumpkins at Thanksgiving, Easter egg hunts, and birthday parties. Field trips. All those lazy days at the community swimming pool and the s’mores around our fire pit and climbing the rock wall at the zoo and that time we saw the solar eclipse in our backyard. Confirmation at church. Everything else that made up our lives—that made up his childhood.

I remember all those hopes and dreams I had for him way back before he was even born. See, it took me a while to get pregnant with Cameron. I wanted a baby so badly, and in my late 20s when I decided I was grown up enough, I struggled with infertility. The waiting felt like forever.

I’m convinced God made me wait for a reason, for somewhere during that process, I realized a profound truth I have carried since then: I was not in control of this situation, or of any situation. Only God was in control. I began to read the Bible during that season, and as my faith deepened, my peace about the situation grew.

One day, while reading the book of 1 Samuel in the Bible, I was inspired by the story of Samuel’s mother, Hannah. Barren and grief-stricken, she desired a baby so badly that she vowed to commit her child to a lifetime of service to the Lord if God would enable her to conceive.

As I read those words, an epiphany settled over me. I certainly did not want to send my son off to a temple away from me in lifetime service to God. But I also knew deep in my soul the truth—this child would never really be “mine”, as nothing truly is. He would be the Lord’s.

In that moment, I understood in the depths of my being that nothing truly belongs to me. Nothing is truly in my control. Everything belongs to God. On my knees, inspired by Hannah, I whispered my own vow, committing it deep within my core: “Lord, if you will give me a child, I promise you I will dedicate him to you. He will belong to you, and I will spend my life making sure that he knows you.” I felt the shimmer of the Holy Spirit all over me when that prayer was finished, and I knew my life was forever changed. The next week I discovered I was with child.

Nine months later, Cameron was born, and I never forgot my promise. Now Cameron is 18 years old. He graduated high school on May 22, and in August his plan is to start Winthrop University where he will major in business finance and possibly minor in music. I tried my best to raise him in authentic faith, not just attending church but fully following Jesus Christ. We are genuinely close, Cameron and I. We have deep talks, and I am certain will stay close for the rest of our lives, but I also know in my heart that I’ve done what I should: I’ve released him to the Lord.

Looking back over his childhood, poring over those pictures, was a powerful and healing time for me. It gave me tremendous peace to see the evidence of our life together and entrust him once more to the Lord … just like I did 18 years ago when he was first conceived.

I am still tender about this, and two months from now when he moves into the dorms, I’m sure I will shed tears. But I have peace in my heart. Love doesn’t mean holding on too tight. Love also means letting go—and setting free. 

Let’s Pray: Lord, thank you for the blessings you give and the love we share. Help us understand it’s all an echo of the love we have for you. In Jesus's Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: "Slow Down" by Nichole Nordeman. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. 

Last year, she released an Advent devotional for those seeking true closeness with God, which you can find at Learn more about Jessica’s fiction and read her faith blog at She has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.

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