Last night, as Birgitta drove the five hours back to her college campus on icy roads, I stayed nervous until her text came through: “Just got here.” After that, I could breathe.
Life insists on our letting go of our children, but they aren’t the only ones. As we go through the years assigned to us, we have to say goodbye to parents, mentors, friends, pastors and others. Each positive relationship that has to end involves a negative go-moment.
The old expression, “When God closes a door, he opens a window,” means that when one situation ends, another begins. Every time we willingly let go of someone or something, we’re saying yes to whatever is outside that open window. Again and again God shows us that letting go of one thing opens up something else.
When I was a grade-schooler in the 1950’s, many of us walked home for lunch. Once in a while Mom would let us watch TV while we ate, and a 350-pound man who called himself Two-Ton Baker became our friend through the tiny, round screen.
Two-Ton loved kids, and occasionally he’d have one on his show to sing and banter with him. The child was always invited to grab a handful of candy from a giant glass jar, but a clenched fist full of goodies could never fit back through the small opening. The child would have to partially open his hand to get it out, thus letting go of some of the candy.
This is what happens when we try to hold onto someone or something after it’s time to let go. Our loss seems much greater the tighter we cling. Most departures have to happen anyway, and by hanging on, we lose the chance for a positive send-off. It’s as if we lose all the candy, not just some of it.
Sometimes, however, a go-moment just can’t go well. When a letting-go takes place next to a casket, it’s all negative. Someone precious has gone, and the slam of that closed door hurts deeply. A window may be opening, but we can’t see it through our crying.
God knows how difficult it is to let go. He let go of Jesus for 33 years after they’d been joined in a closeness we can’t begin to comprehend. And Jesus let go of his Father while simultaneously imposing human limitations on himself. He also let go of divinity and royalty to live in poverty. Their separation must have been excruciating, and yet they planned it and did it. The reason? Love of us.
Letting go is always an emotionally draining process. For a Christian who lets go of a loved one through death, however, the emotional pain will one day end abruptly. Our separation is only temporary, just as it was for God the Father, and God the Son.
They endured. We can endure.
Because some day all our go-moments will be gathered up into one eternal coming-together.
“God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.” (Luke 6:21b)