A year ago, I watched a U-Haul pull away from view carrying my son and daughter-in-law with all their possessions. A year of living together brought a sense of comfort and routine. But this day a little over a year ago, left me with one thought … there goes my heart.

A truck filled to the brim, a car and the obligatory waves “goodbye” totally left my heart feeling like it was being pulled from my body. If you are a parent, mentor, aunt, uncle, or anything else where you have the privilege of watching young people grow up, I imagine this feeling is familiar.

Take a minute and think about your own heart-stretching moments. The first day of Kindergarten for your child, or the same child riding a two wheeler for the first time. Then you fast forward to high school graduation, marriage, your first grandchild. The list goes on. All I know is that God provides heart-stretching moments to remind us how these bittersweet points in time deepen our love.

Let’s take a look at some pivotal heart-stretching times in the life of Jesus.

In Luke 2, we read about the shepherds who heard the good news about the birth of Jesus from angels. They traveled to Bethlehem to see the miracle for themselves. With joy and delight, the shepherds began to spread the news of the birth. Mary’s response was:

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

One birth brought the Good News to the world and Mary paused to remember each detail.

As you read a little further in the same chapter in Luke, Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. Jesus is twelve years old as the festival ended. Mary and Joseph headed home not realizing Jesus isn’t with them. Jesus is still in the temple learning from the teachers and elders.

This was a “there goes my heart” moment.  Can you imagine the worry Mary and Joseph felt? Then there was the realization that this marked a glimpse into Jesus’ future. Jesus responds:

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Luke 2:49-50

And then the final heart-stopping moment when Jesus, crucified on a cross, takes his final breath as His mother looks on.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27

Watching our children grow up, provides a glimpse into some of the emotions Mary experienced as she watched Jesus grow up.

I remember the first days and weeks after each of my sons was born. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them and each blink, sweet gaze, as well as dirty diaper was a gift to treasure.

As my sons grew a little older they reached for independence as they took their first step, said their first word, and entered school. I worked hard to keep them close and once again remembered the treasure they were.

Now my sons are grown, one is married, but both live a life of independence. My heart grows deeper in love with both as we create new memories. And the ache when they leave still creates “there goes my heart” pauses that leave me breathless.

Can I reassure you moms, dads, teachers, mentors, and everyone who touches the life of a child? Heart-stretching moments are real. They are hard, but on the other side they produce deep gratitude and even deeper love.

You are equipped and your heart is ready to grow exponentially as your child does the same. Each time you feel your heart stretching beyond what you think is possible, God is standing next to you holding your hand and cheering you on.

Blessings friends!

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

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