Parent Devotion: The Truth About Freedom
When my kids were little, my parents would occasionally host a “grandkids sleepover night” so my husband and I could enjoy the freedom of a date night that actually extended THROUGH the night and into a glorious morning of sleeping in without the intrusion of little people.
I used to count down the days to brief encounter with “freedom,” and then inevitably something would happen that robbed me of the peace of truly enjoying it.
From croupy coughs to spiking fevers, there was always something nagging inside my mommy-brain that made it impossible for me to let go and relax for those 24 hours of freedom. I felt guilty for not being there, I had to check in, I had to make sure everything was OK.
Because for me, freedom came from the peace of mind that only seemed to be achievable from my own ability to keep everything under control.
Fast forward through elementary, middle school and high school. There was finally freedom from diapers, babysitters, and eventually even carpools. Gone were the days where my time was demanded every waking moment. My teenagers were so absorbed in their busy lives that I became the one following them around the house begging for a few minutes of attention.
But while freedom from so many of the demands of parenting young children was evident, I was still a slave to the fear of not being in control.
The more independent my kids became, the more I struggled with carrying the weight of wondering and worrying and feeling clueless about knowing what was REALLY going on in their lives. I was confident in the great kids I’d been blessed with, but I couldn’t shake the ever-present paranoia that comes with raising teenagers in today’s world.
And when my daughter left for college, and I was the LAST parent to leave the residence hall on drop off day because I was still “nesting” and decorating her dorm room in a full-blown interior design makeover at 9pm, I finally realized I had some reckoning to do with my soul.
I came face-to-face with the truth that I don’t do the “letting go” thing very well.
Not at all.
And because God always seems to show up in crazy-cool ways when we start paying attention to what’s stirring in our soul, the topic of my Bible study a few days after college drop off was “freedom.”
“What does freedom mean to you?” was a question we discussed.
We all talked of freedom from things like obligations, from debt, from illness, from emotional heartache, from addiction, from fear, from anxiety, from ties to unhealthy relationships. All stuff real life is made of.
The more we talked, the more it dawned on me that we often define freedom as escaping from the binds of something that we feel has gripped our life.
Then there was the next question: “Where have you felt freedom lately?”
And we shared things like “having lunch with a dear friend and we just laughed and laughed;” “taking my dog for a leisurely walk on a beautiful fall day;” “turning off my alarm and sleeping in last Saturday.” All stuff real life is made of.
Related: Check out this best-selling new devotional book for parents: Release My Grip: Hope for a Parent's Heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly
Despite the tough stuff enslaving our lives, freedom wasn’t always absent. It showed up in laughter, it showed up in paying attention to the simple beauty of creation, it showed up in loving relationships, and it showed up in letting go.
And wherever freedom seemed to be most evident, so did the presence of God.
Perhaps freedom doesn’t come from escaping something that’s controlling us, it comes from releasing our grip on what we’re trying to control and surrendering to something greater.
Perhaps it’s not about moving away from, but closer toward something else.
Perhaps that "something" is Jesus.
Digging Deeper: Reading & reflection for parents on freedom
Find a quiet place where you can relax with coffee, a journal or notepad, and Bible (or Bible app). Read the following questions and allow space to listen for what God might have to say.
“What does freedom mean to you?”
Journal or write down your thoughts on this question, and then read and reflect on John 8:32 and John 14:6.
"What things in your life are making you feel enslaved?
Journal or write down your thoughts on this question, and then read and reflect on 1 Corinthians 10:13, and Galatians 5:1.
"When have you felt the most freedom in your life recently?
Journal or write down your thoughts on this question, and then read and reflect on 2 Corinthians 3:17 and John 16:33
Now spend some time looking back over what you've written about freedom in your life, and where you are most aware of God's presence. In the areas you feel enslaved by, how might surrendering these things to God impact your sense of freedom and bring you the peace He promises?
Journal or write down your thoughts on this question, and then read and reflect on Matthew: 24-25 and Galatians 2:20.
Written by Kami Gilmour, mom of 5 teen and young adult kids. (releasing her grip on her son at college drop-off day in the photo.) Kami is the author of a best selling devotional book for parents of college students (Release My Grip).