Can’t Let Go: A Place at the Table

Photo by hrohmann /

Recently, my family stayed with dear friends who have two darling little girls. One night, during bath time, screams erupted from the second floor. Leaving my own girls to work on the clean-up project we were in the middle of, I climbed the stairs to see if I could help. Two young kids close in age is a tricky business, and an extra hand never goes amiss.

As I walked down the hall toward the bedroom, I could hear my friend’s anguished voice: “You have to let me help you, baby.” She was locked in a bathtime struggle with her youngest daughter, employing all the “time in” training she had received to help this precious little person currently full of wild rage. As I moved between the bathroom and the bedroom, quietly offering a word of support and finding pajamas for her older daughter, I watched as my friend’s body (and soul) absorbed blow after blow. Her arms formed a gentle and protective circle around her daughter, whose fury fueled the screams of “Let me go!” and “Go away!” It was almost more than I could bear to hear the tears in my friend’s voice.

“I can’t let you go, baby. I can’t. You have to let me help you.”

Her arms formed a gentle and protective circle around her daughter, whose fury fueled the screams of “Let me go!” and “Go away!”

I watched for only a second, but that image plays on in my head as if it were hours. It was not the intensity of the little girl’s shrieks or my awe at my friend’s strength and control that bronzed the image forever in the museum of my thoughts. It was the fact that as I watched, I became that little rage-filled girl, and my friend became the One who made me, holding me close, helping me in spite of myself.

How often have we raged against circumstance or perceived injustice, or…God? How often are we aware only of the restraint, rather than the overwhelming love of the One who restrains?

In that room, I was suddenly aware that I was standing in a holy place. I was witnessing a sacred moment. My friend did not abandon her daughter, and she did not let go. She stayed, allowing her body to shield the world from the blows of her daughter and to shield her daughter from the blows of the world. She mirrored the One who made that precious little girl. She mirrored God’s love that never leaves, never gives up. She lived Christ.

Later that evening, her rage spent, that little daughter sat next to my friend at the dinner table, so close and tucked in. My friend was weary, heartsick, bruised…but there was room at the table for her daughter. There will always be room.

Amy Knorr is an educator and freelance writer living in Pennsylvania Amish country. She has a passion for speaking and facilitating community learning. She is married to a scientist who makes her laugh, and has two little girls who make her laugh harder. She blogs at One Step to Blue, where this article first appeared.

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