I heard, really heard for the first time the words of a familiar Christmas carol, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.” The specific words which grabbed my attention were, “Our hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

I’m just coming off of a euphoric yet sobering high from seeing family, especially grandchildren, at Thanksgiving. Sobering, because all five of my precious ingots were not there together. That’s what happens with divorce. Euphoric, because in spite of heartache, families stitch together the torn pieces like a patchwork quilt and see new beauty and purpose in the new configurations.

Upon this vignette preamble, I listened to the Christmas words in a fresh light. I hadn’t thought of the “fears” part before, just the “hopes” angle of the advent season. After my own divorce twenty-one years ago, my greatest obsessive fear concerning my children transpired. One of my boys went through a divorce. I’d been there and done that. Abhorring the thought of them going through that type of pain, I had a hard time working through the dismay of wreckage and devastation of his divorce. I’m on the other side now. Obviously, I had not allowed God to “meet” my “fears” of divorce. Holding “fears” pretty tightly is my normal tendency! I patently need to place not only my “hopes” for my children and grandchildren in God’s omnipotent embrace but my “fears” for them as well.

God came to live amongst us as a baby. Mary’s job as a mother was to nurture hope in Jesus and ease his fears. Likewise, as a mother, I myself did the very best I could to do the same. However, at one point, I had to release my children to make their own decisions and live their own consequences. At what age, at what stage, through what scenarios do we as parents let our children fly on their own? Mary let go when Jesus was thirteen!

I understand Mary’s cry in Luke 2: 46-48. She was full of fear, dismay, and relief when she found Jesus teaching in the synagogue after she had lost him in the travelling crowds. Think about it. He was lost to them for three whole days!

Do I relinquish my fears for my children and grandchildren to Jesus, or do I hold to the “fears” because that’s my job as a mother and grandmother?

. . . and after three days they found him sitting in the temple courts surrounded by the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Jesus were astonished at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were overwhelmed. His mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously!’

Luke 2: 46-48

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