"He must become greater;
I must become less."
Becoming less is not something we embrace as a society. If anything, we want to become more! More attractive, more educated, more famous, more wealthy, more secure, more in control--more, more, more!
Yet in many seasons of life, God calls us to become less. As we mature, we begin to recognize our pre-occupation with self. We marry and we learn what "two becoming one" is supposed to mean. There's a giving up of rights, a combination of sacrifices both great and small involved in developing a relationship of oneness.
We have children, and we soon realize that our hearts have expanded. We now know how it is to experience someone else's emotions as if they were our own. Meeting our children's needs becomes our priority; we willingly and gladly sacrifice to help them in every way we can.
But this new season I'm entering is one that can be more difficult to embrace. The season of the empty nest. It's a season of becoming less. As my daughters and their husbands establish their families, they will begin their own traditions. And so ours will change.
They have inlaws (wonderful inlaws, by the way), so there are other people to consider besides just us. So we will sometimes be without them when we'd like to be with them.
There will be plenty of times to be together, but there will also be many times when their lives won't be operating around ours. We are moving from hub to spoke, as it were, as they are moving from spoke to hub. It's the way it should be. It's the way it is designed to be. It is appropriate that in this season of our children's lives, my husband and I become "less."
I want my children to have the freedom to live their lives without constant fear of my disappointment. I want their thoughts of my home to be full of fun and joy, not guilt and duty.
But in order to give this blessing to my children, I must become less.
It's not in a parent's nature to let go. We find this out as soon as we leave our little ones in the church nursery, the preschool, kindergarten, junior high. We experience it over and over as they get their driver's licenses, graduate high school, and head off to college. As they grow, our roles change. And we let go bit by bit of the minutia of their lives as we learn to trust the adults they are becoming.
Still, becoming less can be very difficult. It requires a mindset determined not to take things personally when my expectations aren't met. I must choose flexibility and not cling too tightly to my own agenda. I must stay away from passive aggressive attempts at control or emotional manipulation. I must check my own heart to see if what I'm giving my daughters truly meets the criteria of 1 Corinthians 13's definition of love- the kind of love my Father in heaven gives me.
And now I see why my becoming less is contingent upon Jesus becoming greater! That is the key! As I release my children to the Lord, He fills up that empty space, and helps me process my emotions. I'm not depending on anything outside of Him to make me happy because, as always, He is helping me choose a happiness not based on my circumstances.
I can be whole and contented and an integral part of my daughters' lives without having the need to manage their lives.
All of life's journey involves change. And change always brings up to the surface our fears, our neediness, our inadequacies. And yet, Christ always meets us in broken places! He has woven into the tapestry of our lives many many seasons of change so He can enter in to these very areas we have so carefully tucked away, bring them to the light, and heal us. Grow us. Mature us.
He loves to help us become less.
In order to be the kind of mother I want to be,
He must become greater;
I must become less.