When Vince and I were first dating, his daughter Autumn was about to turn 7, and she was his whole world. I had never met a more devoted, strong, affectionate, amazing dad, and his love for Autumn was one of the things that greatly attracted me to him.
But I noticed, that mixed in with all the love he had for his precious daughter, was fear. And as we talked about it, he admitted that the moment she was born, he was gripped with fear. He had never felt such responsibility in his whole life. The weight of being entrusted with a human life was almost too much for him to bear.
But he gave everything he had within him to raising her with strength and love, and the results are obvious. Autumn is a confident, strong, independent, joyful, carefree 12 year-old, and a lot of that is due to the incredible father she has.
In the beginning of our relationship, I noticed that his emotional tie to Autumn was very strong, and there was fear mixed in there that I knew he could be free from. He admitted he had struggled with a fear of her dying, from the moment she was born. So when he told me that, I said,
“Vince, you realize that God loves Autumn more than you do, right?”
My point was that there is nothing to fear, because she is not his, she belongs to God, to Life, and she will live the destiny she is meant to live. I wanted him to know that although she has been entrusted to him for a time, he is not ultimately responsible for her. I thought it would be good news.
But he was furious. It really struck a chord.
And what he did next caused me to really fall in love with him. He took his anger to God, and really opened his heart, in the midst of the fear and pain he was feeling. He felt confirmation from Spirit that what I had said was the truth. And he began the beautiful, painful, necessary and freeing process of letting his daughter go.
I LOVE the poetry of Kahlil Gibran. In the book The Prophet he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
5 years later, Vince’s relationship with Autumn is very different. He has let her go, just as I have had to go through my own process of letting her go. Letting go of someone doesn’t mean you stop loving or caring for them. It means you hold them loosely.
You let them be who they are, without trying to make them into a copy of you.
The results are more love, more joy, more freedom, and the deep peace of knowing that God takes care of everyone we love, when we let go of our tight grip.
When we let go of those we love, we can start to really see their true identity and radiance, unencumbered by our own vision of who we want them to be. We can let them be who they really are. And that’s when the magic happens.
Today I leave you with another poem by my friend Ray Berglund, which I set to music. And since this song came through me, not from me, I am not ashamed to say that I LOVE this song SO MUCH — the melody is hauntingly beautiful and will stay with you if you let it.
This poem is deeply emotional, and came from Ray’s own process of letting go of his son when he left home as a young adult. I hope it ministers to your heart today.