Letting Go

Dean Phelps, Transitional Regional Minister

Dean Phelps, Transitional Regional Minister
Dean Phelps

I describe myself as an occasional songwriter. Woodworking provides an analogy. Musically, I don’t often design and produce new pieces of furniture. I’m more at home taking an existing piece and giving it new life.

However, on one occasion a conversation with a parent inspired me to write. This parent told me about a challenging conversation with their child. The child they had raised was at the threshold of adulthood, and the parent shared their concern that this child was not making the best choices. At the same time, they realized that they had guided their child to the place where they had to let this now young adult make their own decisions and realize their consequences.

They had done their best. They had to let go.

As the song took shape, it echoed the parable in Luke of the lost son. The story is familiar to many. A son has reached the age of making his own decisions and asks for his share of the inheritance. He’s ready to strike out on his own, to live his life, to experience the world.

When I read that story, I wonder about the conversation between father and son that we don’t hear in scripture. What led the father to say okay? Did the father try to convince his son that this was not the best choice? How did the father explain that patience, learning, and wisdom would be better than impulse? How did the conversation end?

Nevertheless, the father lets go. He divides the inheritance, and the son sets out on his own. The story does not end here, though, because the father continues to hope that his son will return. The father’s love for his son continues even after the son is gone.

Love may be in its best form when it says, “I love you enough not to grasp you tightly, and I love you enough to let you explore and learn.” Sometimes the best expression of love is to release our grip. Even as our grasp weakens, though, love holds on to hope.

If you come up empty,
You don’t have to stand alone.
There’s room here at the table;
You can always come back home.

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