As our children grow into their individual lives, we find ourselves as bystanders. We watch them struggle in a job. We look for opportunities to offer perspective or warning. Sometimes these opportunities come, and often they do not. In matters of the heart, we watch hoping that they will make good choices. That those they love will love them back. We watch and hope for good connections and healthy spaces. There is so little we can do… we just watch.
We watch from the perspective of life long lived. We’ve experienced our own heartache and our own struggles. We recognize weaknesses or patterns of the heart that haven’t served us well. We hold our breath, whisper prayers of grace and watch them navigate transitions, dangerous curves, and moments of indecision. It is a strange thing to have your heart live outside your body.
We watch with expectation as they begin to make headway. They begin to take ground, moving forward no matter how slow and it feels like victory. They run back and complain about how hard it is, but keep at it, keep moving forward. Even with bumps and bruises, they carry on, occasionally glancing this way for encouragement and comfort, as they live their lives. We cheer from the sidelines as we always have.
We watch with great love. We want them to be happy, whole. Often we don’t understand their lives because they are so different from ours. Some days anxiety and fear push us to our knees. We watch them learn and grow, we watch them fall, and then regain their footing and go on. We look for opportunities to walk alongside, to know them here. To offer a word, respite, or comfort where we can.
Once we were the center of their lives, now we are bystanders watching from a distance. It is as it should be. These humans we have loved for all the days of their lives are fascinating people. In some ways, they are completely familiar. We know the shape of their hearts, but we also see how life is shaping and forming them as they grow. We are privileged to have a front-row seat at this moment in their lives. We are happy bystanders here.