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.
[Tweet “What looks like a yesterday event is now a today reality. #TellHisStory”]
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.
[Tweet “Heart-stretching moments are real and hard, but they produce deep gratitude and love. #TellHisStory”]
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.
Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash
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My heart aches just thinking about those moments of “there goes my heart.” If we live long enough, we’ll all experience them. But yes, I’m so grateful that we can continue walking in faith and experiencing joy on the other side. Thanks, Mary.
As we get older we face more and more heart-stretching moments. It comes when our kids move away, move back home, and then move away again. I can just imagine how your heart stretches every time you spend time with granddaughter. Thank you for being here.
“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.”
This is some wonderful reassurance. =) And very true as I now walk a bit on the other side of parenting. We’re not yet to grandparenting, so we are still walking the middle ground. “Heart-stretching moments”, yes indeed!
Thank you, Mary, once again for pointing us to our Good God. And thank you for providing this place to share our hearts and our stories…
The middle ground is a great place to be. I cannot wait for the grand parenting phase. I imagine you have experienced many heart-stretching moments with your own sons. May we continue to find God in our stories and know that He has written the best story of all.
Such great encouragement for me today. My 13 going on 35 year old is stretching me for sure! laurensparks.net
Special blessings to you as you maneuver the teen years. May you feel God’s presence in every moment of your day.
Mary, I know those heart-wrenching moments well. I’m so glad Jesus is with us through every one of them and is giving us strength and grace. Blessings to you!
I know you do! I could not do it without Jesus and am blessed that He sees me through these heart-stretching moments. Thank you for being here.
I love this idea of “heart-stretching moments,” Mary. I’m going to hold onto that one. How even when our hearts hurt, God is growing our love ever deeper. Our children have been out on their own for several years already, but no matter how old they become, there are plenty of those moments. Also for our grandchildren. I just can’t imagine how Mary must have felt. I sometimes have thought she must have felt her very heart ripped from her. Love and hugs to you!
I know how often my heart is stretched these days. It seems to happen more often now that my sons are older. I can’t imagine what it will feel like with grandchildren. Thank you for blessing me with your sweet words.
You always guide the reader to HIM. Good stuff.
Thank you, Susan! I pray I always honor God in my writing.
Oh, that Mama heart stretching. It can be as difficult as labor pains. I am convinced that the breathing they teach you for labor is more for the years to come than for that moment.
Thank you for sharing your heart, but also the heart of Mary. I would love to sit across a table from her with a warm cuppa tea and ask her to tell her story with all the Mama heart feelings!
Such a great way to describe it – like labor pains. And I have been known to use my breathing from childbirth in other situations. What a treat it would be to sit across the table from Mary and hear her momma’s heart.
I can so relate, Mary! I feel like my heart is walking around outside my body in three different locations–one nearby, one in Denver and one in Wake Forest! Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone in this scary part of parenthood, as well as how these times can deepen our love and connection with our children–no matter how old they get or far they roam. Hugs to you!
I know you are being stretched in so many different directions. This is a scary season of parenthood but also it my favorite time. I seem to love whatever season I am living in with my kids. I pray your heart grows even bigger as you maneuver this time of stretching.
Hi Mary. I’m so grateful for heart stretching moments even if they hurt. They mean that we love deeply and want to hold tight to the ones dearest to us. I love this verse you shared, But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Just like a mom, she wanted to remember every moment with her new Son. So beautiful! Blessings to you!
I would like to think I am a little bit like Mary as I treasure family moments and store them in my heart. I think heart-stretching moments are meant to hurt, but only in the way that we make room for more love. Blessings to you too!
I love how you turned (potentially) heart-breaking/crushing moments into heart stretching ones! Children, at any age, certainly know how to stretch our hearts!!:)
You are right! It doesn’t matter the age of children because our hearts will stretch beyond what we think is possible. Blessed to have you join in the conversation.
I write about women in the Bible a lot, Mary is a woman who was favor and knew tremendous loss, but we can identify with the fact that she too, needed a savior, and was she knew He rose from the dead. ( And Mary only a loving mother appreciates a dirty diaper, I feel the same and brag on my Yorkie for hitting the puppy pad, though she’s no longer a puppy. )
I chuckled over you bragging about your Yorkie. Love looks unique for each of us, but we still feel our heart stretch when we experience any kind of transitions. It is the way of the world. God steers the way of our hearts and He is in the business of growing love every chance He gets. Blessings to you and your sweet dog!
This is beautiful, my friend! I don’t get to see my kids enough—and I always feel stretched at parting. I’m so glad that Jesus holds them in his heart and hands.
I’m not sure how you do it. I know you treasure the time you have with your daughters each summer, but I have one son in town and one that lives two hours away. I still feel my heart stretching each time I have to say “goodbye”. Thank you for being here.
Awww, Mary. Such beautiful, sound wisdom here. Yes, my heart has traveled to a few of these landmark with our boys. One is in high school. The other in eighth grade. In fact, I drove the younger boy to a three-day camp. And watched from my rearview mirror as he clamored out of the car with barely a good-bye, much less a hug. I’m excited for him. That he’s finding his “people” and trying new things. That both boys are pushing for their independence. Though sometimes, it makes me a little sad. 🙂
Hubs and I are playing with the balance between keeping boundaries in place and letting them explore and discover new freedoms. It’s such a delicate dance, for sure.
Thanks for your words as a mom on the other side of all of this.
You describe it well – a delicate dance. There is a push and pull and as a parent we tend to be the ones pulling them a little closer. I wish I could tell you it will get easier friend, but that’s not reality. I can tell you that God loves our kids even more than we do and that is a truth that helps me. I pray you find such joy in the push and pull and hold the truth of God’s deep love for you and your sons close.
Yeah, these comings and goings and all the transitions that go along with it can be bittersweet indeed, Mary. Thanks for talking about Jesus and his mama. Oh we’ll never know what she went through …
I watch how you handle these situations and you display a beautiful example of what it looks like to be a parent in times of many transitions. Thanks for leading the way. And even though Mary had front row seats, I believe she felt all the things we feel as moms. Blessings!
Eight years ago two sons lived with us and one son and d-i-l lived nearby. When we moved to TN, we took one son with us, left the married one behind, and the oldest one moved out of state in a different direction. I felt like my nest was suddenly two-thirds empty, and my heart was stretched to the max. It’s funny how so many of those heart-tugging moments come at necessary stages of their growth away from us and on to maturity, like going to school, learning to drive, etc. I’m thankful for the growth and maturity on their part and the reminder to me that God loves them even more than I do and will walk with them as He has with me.
I can’t imagine Mary dealing with that kind of thing as well as watching the world turn against her Son. She didn’t have the completed Scripture as we do now, and there must have been so many things she didn’t understand. I so appreciate her example of keeping them close to heart and pondering them. Everything we’re told about her shows her to be a woman of faith and prayer, so she must have brought all those ponderings to the Lord and waited on Him when she didn’t have the answers.
Thank you for sharing your insight and part of your own story today. It’s hard when our kids don’t live near us. Then our heart is stretched geographically as well as emotionally. But you are wise in saying that God loves our kids even more than we do. That is so reassuring to me.
As for Mary, your right about her not having the completed Scripture, but she had the treasures that she stored in her heart. Each heart-stopping moment was one she kept close to savor and remember. That’s what I want to do as a mom.
I love your description of the “heart-stretching moments” and your reflections on what it was like for Mary. So true that although they are hard these moment can deepen our gratitude and love!
I was thinking of you as I was writing this because I imagine you have had some of these moments with the students you work with. I pray we allow God to grow us as we experience our unique heart-stretching moments.
Oh you have captured those heart-stretching moments so well here! It surprises me, even after my own children have been out on their own for many years now, that those moments will still sneak up on me and tug my heart-strings again. Thank you for these reminders that HE is growing the love in our hearts even deeper through it all. Blessings!
I needed to hear you say that the heart stretching moments continue. I already experience it every time my sons come home and then leave again. It doesn’t get easier, but it certainly fills my heart with more love. Thank you for walking ahead of me and clearing the way. Your experience helps me.
Mary, no matter how old they grow, our hearts continue to stretch and grow 🙂 Beautiful post!
You are a few steps ahead of me so I see how your heart is stretching. It’s such a gift to be a parent and one that I treasure.
Today, all the 9/11 Anniversary updates remind me that I was expecting baby #4 when the towers fell, and it’s unbelievable to me that he will, therefore, (do the math and be astonished!) also be 17 soon. Why does 17 sound SO MUCH OLDER than 16?
!7 is one step closer to adulthood. It does sound so much older. I can imagine the feelings you must have as you inch closer to being an empty nester. It’s one more beautiful step that reminds us what a gift love is.
I’ve wondered about Mary’s heart struggles as a mom and you’ve described her heart struggle as scripture tells so well! I’ve just become a complete empty-nester and think it’s effecting my heart more than my mind can understand.
So watching for God’s light to show me the way through….
I relate to the feeling of being an empty nester and having my heart stretched more than I thought possible. On some level I understand and accept it is part of life, but my heart is always lagging behind. And reflecting on how Mary felt added another layer to the story of Jesus. Praying for God’s light to shine brightly to help you see the way.
Good morning, Mary. Thank you for this post. Our oldest (only 13) has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression this past year. My mother’s heart strings want to pull him tighter, even though I know he needs to explore and become. I have begun praying to God to release my grip and expect God’s good work in him and his younger brother. Have a blessed Tuesday.
I can’t imagine how hard this is for you, Julie! As mom’s we want to protect and hold on tight to our kids. Our reaction is the opposite of what God asks us to do, which is to let them go. I will join you in prayer for you to release your grip knowing that God loves your sons even more than you do. Thank you for being here, Julie!