The boy and I have taken to reading together at night. It started out as a bribe–I’ve been bound and determined since before they were born that they will read C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, and they will love them as I have loved them. Of all the books I’ve read in my life, these have been the most loved for their combination simplicity and complexity, for the beauty of both story and prose.
M tried them and passed.
“How can you not love them?” I implored. And yet, he did not love them.
What he does love is time with me, so I made him a bargain: I would read with him for the last fifteen minutes of the day, if we could read The Chronicles…. And so we have.
(Insert parenting guilt: Perhaps I should never have stopped reading with him. Perhaps I have missed out on banking countless moments of togetherness by trading reading together for reading apart. Perhaps that time was critical and without merit lost forever. Perhaps, perhaps–the story of a parent’s life. I love that Christ is so in the moment when our flesh so desperately sticks in the past. What’s done is done, what is will be)
We are nearly at the end of the third book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and coming up to my most heart-wrenching moment in the series (spoiler alert–if you haven’t read the books, be aware!). Reepicheep, the leader of the mice, is about to set sail for the end of the world, never to return.
No matter how many times I’ve read this series–and it’s a lot–I come to this moment with my heart in my throat. Reepicheep is a strong and noble character, full of life and humor and enthusiasm. Promise. This mouse, two feet tall, is bursting with more promise than almost any other character. And here we will leave him at the end of the world, sailing away into a sea of flowers for adventures untold. This has always been his dream, his destiny, the one thing he wants more than anything else in the world.
Still, I cannot bear to part with him.
I want to hold onto him forever, find out what he might say or do at any moment, be part of his every adventure. I do not think it’s fair to be given a character that’s so incredibly lovable only to have to let him go, even if it’s his heart’s greatest desire and the logical next step in his journey.
The worst part is, he’s right next to me, and she’s sleeping in the other room.
As we’ve approached this final chapter of the book, I’m seeing for the first time how difficult the parenting road really is. We are gifted these children to guide, protect, and grow, only to have to let them continue their own journey alone. Granted, I pray that my children will always include me in their lives, but that’s not a given, nor will it be the same as the closeness we have now. We love them to the point of letting them go.
I do not want to let them go.
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.” (Deuteronomy 10:12-14)
As with the characters in a story, we become so attached to the things and people in our lives that we begin to think of the story as our own and thus subject to our own desires. The story is God’s; everything in it belongs to Him. We have our own part, and that it is to fear God, love Him, serve Him, obey Him. It is to make subject to Him all that we have, including ourselves and our children. Even if they are written to sail away to the very end of the world without us.
Holding onto anything as if it’s mine places me in direct conflict with the will of the Lord, and it prevents me from being able to completely focus on my part in the story. I can enjoy the times this part overlaps with the most amazing people, places, and ministries, but I cannot let that enjoyment become confused with ownership, because it never belonged to me in the first place. I belong to Him.
So the question is, what are you holding on to as your own, and how does that weigh you down on the road you are called to walk? How could you shift your perspective to consider it His and not yours? There’s a freedom in that, knowing that you are not responsible for the rest of the story. Leave that to the author of Creation–He’s clearly up to snuff.
The parenting guilt, it lifts as little as I consider this: walking in open-handed obedience to God allows Him to rewrite those missing moments in a way I never can. I rest in His grace; I trust in His competence; I live in His story. In His hands, what is will be good, in Narnia and now.