Slipped away to Columbus, Ohio this past weekend. Trinity was hopping with great worship, a big-time food drive, and a packed Upward Basketball/ Cheerleading celebration in the afternoon. But we needed to go. So we did.
There is a playground on the back yard of an elementary school in the Westgate area of Columbus. We headed down there several times, with our 18-month granddaughter, during the weekend. She is just learning her way to navigate around a playground...across the uneven surface of a grass yard.
Two things I noticed.
First, she has gotten pretty comfortable very quickly. What that means is instead of waiting for us to walk by her side, Ella goes on ahead of us. There have been times when she would walk 4-8 feet ahead of us, but that is lengthening out. Now, she will go off 20-30 yards. She looks independent. Like she could conquer the world. If you watch carefully, though, you'll notice she turns her head half-way to the side to catch the occasional glimpse of us. Just to make sure we are behind her. Just to make sure she isn't alone.
She looks back. She sees us. Then, she faces forward and goes!
She is a little girl who is so well loved by every adult in her life? Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, her babysitter, and adult friends at Columbus Vineyard...she is well loved.
Love gives us the confidence to go on...walk ahead...go further. Without love we are always afraid, always clinging, but when we are well loved we have the confidence to move ahead...go out...explore the world.
I John 4:18 says perfect love drives fear out of our lives. I see that in her.
There is a second thing I noticed: she doesn't need to hold onto my hand when we walk across the yard. The uneven grass is a challenge for a little girl, but when I offered her my hand Sunday morning she pulled her hand back and shook her head, "No."
I smiled. Watched her navigate her way across the grass of late winter. It's an interesting moment, isn't it? We love, hold onto the next generation, and then they need to let go...make their own way across the terrain of this world.
Loves gives itself away so that the other can be independent...so that the other person can walk their own path.
Love, as I commented to someone the other day, means holding on...and letting go.
And when you love well the other person experiences the freedom and confidence to let go.