“Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways… your children (will be) like olive plants around your table.” Psalm 128: 1, 3b
We are blessed indeed to have raised four children. We tried to teach them to seek the Lord and His will for their lives, and that they would be truly happy when they said “yes” to His plan. We gave them all back to Him when they were teenagers as the time for them to leave home was approaching. Now, years later, we are in the process of letting go again.
We have three sons and one daughter. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s our daughter who is discerning a religious vocation with the Sisters of Life in New York. Since we live in Portland, Oregon, it’s hard to see her move so far away from us (although a friend did remind me that it’s much closer than India!)
It’s been quite a roller coaster of emotions and of letting go of our dreams for Julie (Jim walking her down the aisle, she and I leading women’s retreats together, etc.) for a better dream – God’s dream for her. One day when I was on the grieving part of the roller coaster, I asked the Lord to speak to me about His plan for her. As I listened, this is what I sensed Him saying to me:
“My sacred heart is aching for you. Truly I know the pain you are feeling. I will bring so much good from it, I promise. I love Julie. I have called her from her birth. I have kept her for myself. Thank you for helping Me by loving her so well and by passing on the gift and spark of faith. Your love for Me helped her to fall in love with Me. I will take good care of her. I will provide for all of her needs. And I will help you continue to love her and hold her in your heart. She will always be a part of you even though distance separates you. Cling to Me and my promises. You are precious to Me too. Don’t be jealous of Julie’s vocation – she wouldn’t be here without your vocation! Let Me have her now with no reservations. Let her run to Me – let her go with all joy and with all wonder. Give her back to Me again.”
God didn’t promise that His will is easy, or that it never hurts. But He did promise to be with us always, and that He will turn our mourning into dancing. As we pray for religious vocations, let’s pray too for the families who must let them go.