I’d like to tell you a little life lesson I learned from a bird awhile back.
I was doing some yard work in late spring and I had my back to a tree. I was focused on what was in front of me and technically walking backward straight into the tree. If that makes any sense at all!
A bird flew over my head, a bit too close for my comfort. Before I knew it, that bird was going back and forth letting me know I needed to get out of that space.
There may have been a few screams 😉 OK, I screamed. I’ve been swooped at by many birds over the years and I’m not a fan. I quickly moved out of the way and got a better look at why the bird was warning me.
There it was- a baby bird hopping around on the ground, flapping it’s wings and getting a little momentum. I was smack dab in the middle of a flying lesson. Worse yet, I was seen as an object of danger.
I immediately had empathy for the bird. It was protecting its young while it was learning how to survive. The main focus of that parent bird was to do whatever it could to protect its little one in training. In that season, the bird was the protector while the baby was vulnerable.
That scene has stuck with me ever since.
I could so relate to that bird. It took me back to the years that my own kids were small. I wanted to protect them while they were learning. I wanted a safe space for them to master survival skills.
If only it was as easy as swooping down on dangers. I would have loved a roped off construction site, but that’s not how life works.
It took me far too long to realize that my role as a parent was only to guide and teach about all the dangers. I couldn’t fully protect anyone. I wanted to tuck them under my wing…but that’s something I don’t have.
I could never do enough, be enough, love enough, want enough to create the perfectly safe environment I longed for my kids to have. It’s just not humanly possible.
There is only one perfect Protector and Defender and eventually I learned to release them into his hands. Psalm 91 is a comforting passage of scripture that talks about divine shelter. Verse 4 goes like this, “He will cover you with his feathers; you will take refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.”
As parents we teach, guide and release. Yes, there will be dangers. Dangers none of us can stop. That’s why teaching and guiding is important. Children don’t automatically know not to touch a pot handle on the stove. They don’t know not to go by a running tub or a bucket of water. They have no idea that climbing up or being on top of furniture is dangerous. They don’t know about electrical outlets, cars, parking lots, wells, strangers, poison, farm equipment, pools, chainsaws, safety around animals, hornet nests, cliff edges, the dangers of wandering away in a crowd, the dangers of electricity and water, ropes, necklaces, large food pieces, fireworks, internet dangers…I could go on and on. Do you see how much they don’t know? They just don’t know. They have to be taught.
I’ve watched so many parents yell at their kids for doing something dangerous. All the while, smack dab in the center is an assumption that they would automatically know. Telling and teaching are two very different things. The day of release will happen and if there are gaps in the learning and guiding then it’ll be a very rough flight for them.
I know there is no way to escape all the dangers in life. You and I can’t make the world safe. There will always be accidents and individual choices that are out of our control. Teaching them Who their ultimate protector is will help them in so many ways.
That bird showed me there comes a time when we stand at a distance. First we’re pretty close and we’re right there as danger approaches. Then we move further and further away. Entrusting them to the One who has their days in His hands.
Parenting transitions from being very actively nearby to praying from afar.
Please hear me…there is nothing easy about the release. Regret, heartache, shame, what if’s, could have’s, maybes, should be’s, why’s, not yet’s all show up at the door when each child steps out on their own. The welcome mat you have outside is not for any of that so refuse it. It can quickly become the unwelcomed guest that stays too long. Don’t open the door!
Trust that the gear you gave them is a good start. They need to gather the rest of their flight supplies themselves. They need to rely on their Savior more than they ever relied on you.
I wish I could tell you letting go is surrounded with promises of safe. You know I can’t, because it’s not. I can’t even tell you how many times others have shared they’re afraid what’s happened to me will be a reality for them if they fully release their children. Oh friend, there’s no peace in that thinking.
We can’t forever frantically swoop over dangers that get too close to our kids. Knowing Who’s children they really are is important. We have them for a time. To teach, to guide and to fully surrender to the Lord.
Life happens in seasons. If this is your season of release then open your heart and both hands and let go. The same One who will be with them is also with you. Trust Him, even with all the unknowns and unplanned. Trust.
Resting in the waiting,