I just returned from a few days in Oakland, California, where my 24 year old daughter is living. Sarah and her sister Kate had been home for Christmas and invited us to accompany her down to California to celebrate Kate’s 20th birthday together on December 28.
We had a nice visit together, did a few things in San Francisco, explored Oakland, laughed and told stories and just generally relaxed after a very hectic Advent and Christmas. And I know it meant a lot to Sarah to have us in her home.
However, it became another one of those “learning opportunities” for me, and represented another milepost on my journey of maturity. Because there in Sarah’s living room I came face to face with another proof that she is living her own life – in her own way. There in front of her front window, proudly positioned for all to see, was a white and gold artificial Christmas tree!
Now I ask you – how can a woman born and raised in western Oregon, a true Northwesterner – find beauty in an artificial Christmas tree? Where did I go wrong as a parent?
Of course, it turns out that wonders never cease. It turns out that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and that what I find unthinkable my daughters might think is just fine. And it turns out that there is always more to learn when it comes to growing up and letting go.
Like any good parent I say I want my children to grow up strong and independent. I want them to know their own minds, to live their own lives with integrity and grace. Yet it still catches me off guard when they do!
Growing up and letting go. It is an absolutely essential lesson to learn (over and over again) as a parent. It is also a good one to learn as a disciple of Christ. Like any good Christian I want God to be God – full of integrity and grace apart from my preconceived notions or expectations. And yet, it still catches me off guard when God is! And I once again have to learn the lesson that the universe and even my faith does not revolve around me, and cannot be prescribed by me.
I have to grow up and let go enough to let God be God. And then to trust that there is an equal space for me to be me. Wonders never cease. And sometimes, an artificial tree really is a thing of beauty.
Happy New Year!