At the time that I am writing this, you are a little over three years old. And while there are times when I watch you do things you couldn't do even a few short months ago and I think about how big you are and how old you are now, you are still little. I see your littleness every night when I go in your room to pray over you and tuck you back under your covers. You are small now, but you will not always be small.
You want to grow up so badly. You are always telling me how you are growing "big, big, big up to the ceiling" and how much you want to be tall like Daddy so you can touch the ceiling fan. You are in such a hurry to be big and do all the big kid things. You told me a few days ago that you figured you were old enough to go ahead and drive us on our errands.
I look at this world around us, my precious son, and oh, how I want to keep you little. This week's headlines alone have me trembling, wanting to reach for you and somehow hold you so tightly that you will stop growing up and stay small and innocent forever. I want you to keep your total lack of awareness of world issues, your simple understanding of right and wrong, your complete trust in us as your parents to take care of you and do the right thing.
Our home is one of safety. And I fear for you, sweet boy, heart pounding, stomach twisting, tear inducing fear for the day when you will one day leave my home and my protection. Oh how I want to wrap you up and shield you from everything the world entices you with and tempts you to do. I want you to be small enough to put in my little front pack again and cover your sweet head with a blanket so no one can even get a glimpse of you like I used to do when people's stares at your precious face started to make me uncomfortable. You were mine, son. All mine.
Or so I thought.
Little by little, you have grown. You are experiencing new things, finding new adventures, going to new places. Soon you will be old enough to step out of my range of sight, to leave my protective arms for longer than a few minutes. You are so independent and yet so dependent at the same time. Every day you move farther and farther away from dependency.
And every day I move closer and closer into it.
Son, I am learning so much right now. I am learning how to teach you self control. I am learning how to teach you to take care of yourself, to have a healthy distrust of people we don't know, how to seek for help if Mama isn't around, how to count on your fingers and calm your temper before it erupts. I'm learning to teach you to say "yes ma'am" and "no sir" and to hold the doors for girls and that we only practice tackling drills with Daddy. I am learning how to teach you the building blocks of respecting women and going against the crowd and standing up for what's right.
And I am learning to let go.
Jesus has been working on my heart, though there are still times that I stumble and fall. I'm learning to trust. I'm learning to depend not on my strength or the house alarm or Kody or homeschooling or private schooling or whatever else I see as "protection" but to fully trust that Jesus loves you more than I ever will be able to and that His plan for you is better than any that I could come up with. How easy it is for me to trust Him with my life and yet the struggle it has been to trust Him with yours.
Because see, you aren't mine, sweet boy. You never have been.
You have always been the Lord's. From the moment I found out I was pregnant with you, Daddy and I have been praying Hannah's prayer for her son over you: "For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord."
You are precious to me. You are more precious to God (Psalm 139:17). You are the joy of my heart. You are the delight of the Lord (Psalm 37:23). You are loved, my child. So loved that even I can't comprehend the height and depth of it (Romans 8:39).
So bear with me, sweet boy. Yes, I will tell you that things aren't safe. Yes, I will make you hold my hand while crossing the street, I won't let you out of my sight in the grocery store and you will get in big trouble when you try to cut a peach with a sharp knife by yourself. You are not going to be allowed to watch certain movies, you will not have unlimited access to the internet, you will not be able to be friends with certain kids and you will get your mouth washed out with soap if you ever use certain words. Someday soon you will be big enough to do everything by yourself and discern everything by yourself and decide right from wrong by yourself, but today you are little. And today, though you are not mine, you have been loaned to me for this short, precious time. And I want to savor it. Every second of it. And I want to prepare you for what is next. With everything I have.
You have been on a kick lately where when you get especially sleepy you start saying, "Mommy? I love you." over and over and over again. I lock each one of those sweet words in your adorable little voice away in my heart, sweet son.
Nathan? I love you, my precious, precious boy. Let's figure out this growing up thing with Jesus' grace, okay?