What a Trip to the Grocery Store and a Child’s Love for Balloons Taught Me…

It is a regular occurrence: the trip to the grocery store. Most often, the trip is made with my two little ones, and I have to admit that I really do enjoy having them with me (Although, I will never argue a trip by myself for some quiet time as well!). Provided we don’t go during a time when naps are approaching or when we are all a bit overtired, the grocery shopping typically is smooth. 🙂

Recently, I have found myself chuckling a bit as my oldest son has started to associate different stores with the specific items we will usually see or purchase at each. He will shout out the name of the store and then immediately after, he will list the associated item. (I have also begun to learn what a creature of habit I truly am! Children teach us a lot, don’t they?) At one particular grocery store (we have one main store in which we shop and then two others where we get the extra odds and ends), he knows that one of the special treats we sometimes take home is a balloon. Oh, how his face lights up when that balloon string is placed gently in his hand with the instruction from the clerk: “Now, hold on tightly. Don’t let it go.”

What the clerk does not realize is that my child’s mind is thinking just the opposite: “I love this balloon because I get to watch it float to the sky when I get home.”

Yes, it is true. 🙂 My son has learned (after losing one of his balloons to the sky accidentally a couple months ago) that he actually loves to watch the helium filled object drift away into an unknown place in the sky. So, now every time we get one of these balloons, it is gone as soon as we get home, and my son is one happy boy.

I have found this quite comical but also very indicative of my boy’s methodical mindset. He is always trying to figure out how things work and why things do what they do. I love it. 🙂 What I didn’t realize is that the regular occurrence of releasing the balloon would teach me something about faith this last week.

We arrived home and, as usual, he couldn’t wait to get out of the car and have me help him let the balloon go into the sky. We quickly positioned ourselves on the garage platform where he asked me, “Mama help?”

Up until now, I would have had him slip it into my hand, and at that point I would have released it for him. Yet, something in my heart told me that on this particular day, I needed to encourage him to try himself to let it go. The next moment, I will remember vividly. Rather than releasing it right away, it was as if his hands couldn’t let it go. So, I proceeded to encourage him and then showed him with my hands how to “release” the balloon. Yet, his precious hand couldn’t release it’s grip. I continued to cheer him on and started to help him by slowly and gently prying his two-year old fingers from their tight grip around the string. Our first attempt just led him to switch hands and continue to hold on all the tighter. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to let go; rather, it was if he wasn’t sure he could do it. (Believe me, he still was insistent that this balloon float to the sky. 🙂 ) Finally, I showed him one more time how to open his fingers, and then I slowly helped his hands make the same motion. At last the balloon began its ascent. The picture next was beautiful: My sweet boy stood there, his face showing sheer delight as he waved and said, “Bye-bye. Bye-bye balloon.” He was so proud.

This moment with my son taught me something about faith that day. Isn’t this just like life? We all have those “balloons” in which we grip onto so tightly. Those balloons can be anything–maybe it’s a fear, or a root of unforgiveness we are holding onto from being wounded so badly by someone close to us. We all have them. We all have a balloon that, when encouraged to let it go, we just can’t do it. Even though we know the release will be freeing, we struggle. We want someone else to do it for us because we are afraid. Yet, what I am learning more and more (and yes, I still struggle with those balloons in my life), is that it is worth it to step out in faith. Even though the release is hard, the rewards of having faith far outweigh the pain of letting go.

This last week taught me a lot. I learned that I want to release those things that I grip onto in my life more easily. I want God to catch those balloons the minute I release them. He is waiting. He is waiting for all of us to let those things go and then to feel the sweetness of waving as we say, “Bye-bye balloon.”

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