Three months ago I watched with a smile on my face and an ache in my heart as my firstborn drove off with her groom in the rumble seat of her grandpa’s 1935 Ford to begin her new life as Mrs. Plaza. She was the most radiant bride ever in her beautiful Audrey Hepburn-esque wedding gown and her groom absolutely glowed with love for her as she walked down the aisle on her daddy’s arm. I tried desperately to imprint every moment on my heart as the minutes flew by in a whirlwind of activity. My beautiful Molly and I managed to steal a moment in the dressing room so I could tell her how precious she is to me and how very proud of her I am. Our eyes welled up with tears as we embraced, and I felt my heart shatter as I contemplated her never coming back to live with us again. Who knew that one day could hold so much joy and so much pain simultaneously?
I’ve tried in vain for weeks to write about that day and to capture all the emotions in my heart. Every time I sat down and faced the blank screen, my heart froze up and I couldn’t find a way to process all the feelings. It’s been a journey of grief and acceptance, sorrow and joy. As I’ve watched my precious daughter adjust to married life, seen her radiant face as she looks at her new husband with love, the grief of letting her go has mellowed into deep joy that she is so happy and doing so well in her new life. I’ve had to daily remind myself that this is what we raised her for…to be released into the world to make a difference for God’s kingdom. God didn’t gift us with these precious children to be selfish with them, but to train them up as warriors to be released into the world. Holding on to them instead of releasing them is like stringing a bow and arrow, and then refusing to release the arrow. How futile, how ineffective would that be? Life is not about holding tightly to what God has given us, but about blessing others with our bounty.
When I mistakenly set out five plates on the dinner table and my heart constricts, I remember…Molly is now blessing others at her own table. She is a marvelous cook, blessing her husband and those they reach out to and invite into their new home.
When I walk past her (almost) empty room and the tears threaten to flow, I remember…Molly is now in a different city, and God will be using her to impact the people she meets in her apartment complex, her new church, and her new job.
When I get a text from her telling me her new adventures as a postpartum nurse and a pain of missing her comes over me, I remember…all those days of encouraging her not to give up, all those prayers for her have led to her being a fantastic nurse, one who can care for their bodies and their hungry souls.
When I find her little sister crying in her room because she misses Molly so intensely, and my own tears pour, I remember…we have raised a beautiful young lady who is a great example to her sister and to others, and she is caring enough to keep in close contact with Lexi by phone. All those days of reminding them, “Your sister will be your best friend for life, when all the others have faded away. Treat each other with love and respect.” And now they do. Watching Lexi serve as Molly’s beloved maid of honor was a beautiful thing to see…those sisters who often fought over nothing, now consider each other their very best friend.
And while the tears sometimes still flow (but not every day like they did at first), there is a healing quality in them. In the silence of Molly’s room, I hear a whisper, “Well done, good and faithful servant”, and my heart finds peace. In raising a godly young woman, who walks in the ways of the Lord, her daddy and I have accomplished a piece of the mission handed to us by our Heavenly Father. We have released a mighty arrow, honed and made ready by her Creator. Where she goes and what she accomplishes for the Kingdom will give us even greater joy as we watch and continue our job as prayer warriors behind the scenes. And while my heart still grieves for the precious times behind us now, it is tempered with peace and joy as we celebrate with Molly and our wonderful new son-in-law, whom we love beyond measure. Go forth, baby girl, and conquer. Your daddy and I love you and miss you, but bless you in your journey and can’t wait to see where God leads you and Sam.