White Knuckle Momma

When You Become a White Knuckle Momma

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Have you ever grasped onto something so tightly that your knuckles turned white? I went tubing at a friend’s house several years ago and I can still remember the tingling sensation in my hands from gripping on to the ropes, hoping that I would stay on the raft and avoid the choppy, dark waters that surrounded me. Just this week I had the same white knuckle experience. This time I wasn’t grasping onto a rope or anything physical for that matter. No, this time I was tight-fisting a relationship. Without me even realizing it, I was becoming a “White Knuckle Momma”.

My oldest son turned 18 several months ago. I was concerned about how I would handle this newfound freedom he would experience. But then I thought, He lives at home. It’s not like he’s going far away! The idea of him staying close to home filled my heart with joy. But that joy soon turned to worry when he wanted to go out of town with his friends…by himself…without an adult (a real adult!). Not only did he want to go out of town, but they were camping out in a tent at a campground in 100* weather. Not wise. But he insisted and my husband approved. So, I had to let this one go. The only thing consoling me was that he was only a 4 hour drive away if he needed me. Of course, he didn’t.

He actually had a fantastic time and came home all in one piece. I was so glad that was behind me and we could all relax in our new schedule for the upcoming semester. Until he reminded me that he was going on a missions trip to India….by himself….without me. Y’all, I don’t think I was quite prepared for that moment. I honestly think that God blocked that missions trip in my mind so that I wouldn’t be worrying all summer. How did I forget something that big???  I began worrying, praying, and questioning. Did God really want him to go? What kind of mother releases her child (grown or not) to another country in the world we live in?  The “White Knuckle Momma” was back, grasping for control over her babies.

White Knuckle Momma

I cried for two days. How did they grow up so fast? In that moment I realized that there was no turning back. My babies would begin growing up and there was nothing I could do about it. I think I actually grieved the fact that they were getting older. But can I share something with you? God showed up for me in that moment. The words I heard at She Speaks from Lysa TerKeurst rang loudly:

God is good.

God is good to me.

God is good at being God.

Uninvited, Lysa TerKeurst

God knew my hearts cry. He knew my struggle. But He also knew what was best for me and my son. My son needed to go to India. There would be life changing experiences for him there. I had to be brave and let go.

[bctt tweet=”I had to loosen my grip on my son and tighten my grip on God. https://bit.ly/2aQljkp” username=”Alisa_Nicaud”]

2 Things to Remember If You are a White Knuckle Momma

  • God covers our children: One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 91. Having 5 kids, I learned very quickly that I cannot possibly protect them myself when they are all in different places. I could try to keep them within my reach (that doesn’t work very well with teenagers by the way!), but that won’t last forever. Eventually they have to experience things for themselves. I can’t protect them from every hurt, but I know the One who can. I claim Psalm 91:9-16 over me and all my kids:

Because I have made the Lord my dwelling place- the Most High, my refuge- NO evil will be allowed to befall me or my children, no plague can come near my house. For He will command His angels concerning me and my family to guard us in all our ways. On their hands they will bear us up, lest we strike our feet against a stone. (adapted from Psalm 91:9-16)

  • God comforts us: Last week while I was running last minute errands for my son’s trip, I was reminded that God is not only with my son, but also with me. I walked into Best Buy to get his international plug so he could charge his phone and text me while he was there. I’m usually not the Chatty Cathy who talks to the checkout clerk, but that day I randomly blurted out, “My son is going to India today. That’s why I need this plug.” She asked me why he was going to India and I told her he was going on a missions trip to serve those in poverty. Her face grew the biggest smile I could possibly imagine and she literally yells, “What a blessing!” I wasn’t quite sure how to respond, since my enthusiasm was nowhere near hers. “Yeah, but I’m struggling. I really don’t want him to go,” I muttered. I’ll never forget her next words. “God has him, baby! He is covered in prayer. You have raised him right. It is a blessing to have a child that serves the Lord. You are blessed!” Her eyes welled with tears as she went on to tell me how her son, Justin, was not on a good path. He was no where near serving the Lord and it grieved her. At that moment, something broke in me. I knew that being a “White Knuckle Momma” was not what God called me to be. While I had been crying over my son going to serve in India, there were thousands of moms  agonizing over their wayward children. Not only was I encouraged by this woman’s words, but it motivated me to pray for her son and believe for his salvation. I was so focused on my feelings and worries that I was unable to see the clear picture, the blessing of having a child who loves God.

Are you struggling with being a White Knuckle Momma? You are not alone! I’m sure I will always have to find balance between holding on too tight and letting my kids go. The beauty in this journey is that we are not alone! God is with us. We also have each other to cry with, lean on and seek advice from. Can we do this together? Can we commit to helping one another let go of the title of “White Knuckle Mommas”? If your looking for a community of women to join you in prayer and walking out life’s difficult moments, I invite you to join the Flourishing Today Community. You can sign up below by entering your email address. You can also join our Facebook page. We’d love to have you!


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  1. Beautiful testimony, Ailsa. I love Psalm 91 and spent quite a bit of time earlier this year praying it over my husband as he recovered from pneumonia.

    1. Thanks, Lyli! It is definitely one of my favorites. Thanks for stopping by today.

  2. This is amazing, Alisa. It gives me wisdom and hope because I have three of my own, 10, 8 and 4. Thanks for sharing such a great testimony with us. I am so thankful you uttered those words to that lady and for her heart in encouraging you. It just goes to show how God wants to use us, in our daily comings and goings to bless one another. Praying for your son too!

    Saw ya over at #GraceAndTruth today 🙂

  3. Psalm 91 is also one of my go to psalms — and I get a fair amount of teasing from my big boys about the amount of “concern” I demonstrate, so I guess I am also part of the “trusting for grace not to be a white knuckle momma” club.

    1. Haha! I think we are part of a large group, Michele! thanks for stopping by today!

  4. What a great post, Alisa!
    I have two college seniors, and I’ve had those white knuckle moments as well. It does get easier!
    I found your post today on Modest Mom. I’m sharing it on Pinterest, Twitter, and FB!

    1. Thanks for that encouragement, Melanie! I’m glad to know it does get easier! I guess the first one is the hardest!! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Beautiful! I can definitely see myself being a bit of a white knuckle mamma… My 10 year old already claims I’m holding him back. Some of his accusations are silly, but others… not so much. I was letting my fear make decisions that should have been made in faith. I know there are a lot of situations ahead where I will need to turn my kids over to God. Thanks for your encouraging words!

    1. I tend to be a white knuckle momma with my boys more too, Liz! It was right around that age that I seemed to grip tighter. I wanted them to stay my sweet little boys forever! A momma heart wants them to stay small, doesn’t it? Praying you have a wonderful rest of your week!

  6. Sarah (Mumx3x) says:

    Beautiful post, truly beautiful 🙂
    I can see myself being a bit of a white knuckle momma. My eldest is 12… almost 13, he’s already become SO independent. I can’t imagine how I’ll feel when he’s 18! Crazy, it goes so fast! #TwinklyTuesday

    1. It really does, Sarah! Those teenage years are brutal to us white knuckle mommas! They want to explore, step out and let loose, while we are gripping on for dear life to keep them “safe”. Thanks for stopping by today. Have a beautiful week!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I think all of us moms can relate to the white knuckle moments :-). I have had a few (ok, a lot) of those moments! Congratulations to your son for being willing to go to India and thank you for being willing to let him go. I think its great that God was already using your son’s mission trip for His glory before your son ever left. No doubt God allowed you to share the mission trip with the check out lady so that she could share with you about her son so that you would pray for his salvation. It is amazing how God works. God is good all the time, all the time God is good! (Stopping by from Titus 2 Tuesday)

  8. A lovely post to read and very relatable for a lot of mums. #twinklytuesday

  9. Thanks for sharing! My little one is only 6 months old and these were words I definitely needed to hear. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in being anxious over her well-being. I appreciate the truths and reminders that you shared!

    1. Oh yes!! It’s easier to keep them close and hover rather than let them grow up! Thanks for visiting!

  10. Oh goodness, I needed this today! My middle one is heading off to Uni in a couple of weeks—it’s only a 5 hour drive (as opposed to my daughter who is on the other side of Canada!) but still, I’m feeling a wee bit white-knuckled myself. I need to remind myself that he is in God’s hands, his faith is everything to him, and he will be a blessing for sure. (Side note—your son will have a blast in India… I did a missions trip there last year with my youngest son, husband, and dad, and it was life-changing! Knowing that others were praying for us daily was HUGE. Your boy will be such a blessing!) Thanks for sharing your heart and being an encouragement… it’s good to know we ALL go through this stuff! Stopping by from #WordOfGodSpeak 🙂

  11. So sweet, Alisa – they will forever be our babies, right? My son is 13 and there is all sorts of fledgling independence happening around here. On one side, it’s nice to watch him grow and spread his wings. On the other hand, it’s heart wrenching to not have the tiny pitter-patter of his feet following mine, asking me to solve every problem and trusting me to do just that. A very sweet friend once told me, “they’ll never learn to depend on God if they always depend on you.” And I suppose it’s just that – unless we want them living with us when they are 35, we teach them to trust by showing them that we do. And then we pray – a lot! Thanks for encouraging my momma’s heart today. Blessed to visit from #testimonytuesday.

  12. What a blessing in Best Buy, right?! God sent that lady to speak comfort to your heart. He’s in the littlest, most mundane happenings of the day, and He knows our aching, mama hearts.

    I enjoyed this post and I relate so well as I move into even more of an empty nest than before. The waves of grief still come, but God is teaching me trust more each day.

    Thanks for sharing again with us at Tuesday Talk, friend!

  13. Such beautiful words to help all those Mom’s with kids starting back to school. Love that Psalm and loving the Uninvited book.

    1. Me too, Debbie! What an amazing book so far! Thanks so much for stopping by today!

  14. Great post, Alisa! That an amazing encounter you had at the cash register! Wow, that is eye-opening! I just put my 19 year old “kid” on a plane, so he could go spend 3 days in Istanbul with friends, then go on a plane alone from Istanbul to London to Dallas, so he can spend a semester half way around the world. (And I really don’t think Waco, Texas is much safer than Turkey OR India…but we’re all safe under the shadow of His Wings.)

    Oh your words encourage me today. I’m going to tighten my grip on God!

    1. You are so right, Betsy! We really aren’t safe anywhere today except for under the shadow of the Almighty! Praying for your son to have an amazing experience and safe travels.

  15. Beautiful post Alisa. As a tightly wound woman I totally get this image of a white-knuckled mama. Leaning in to Him as I unwind. Glad to be neighbors over on #TellHisStory. 🙂

  16. Yes, God covers our children!! I have challenged myself to live out this truth as my oldest left for China for 4 years, and this reminder brings such comfort. I can’t imagine God’s love for my children is deeper than my own, but it is! Thanks for this calming encouragement Alisa:) Crystal~

  17. Hi Alisa,
    I’m your neighbor at Coffee for your Heart today. I’m not a mom but I enjoyed reading your thoughts and how you turned your fear into joy at your son’s desire to help – – you must be proud that he is undertaking such a trip! Enjoyed my visit today! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Valerie! It ended up being quite a trip! God did some amazing things in and through him. I’m so glad I didn’t mess it up with my insecurity and fears!

  18. So timely. I teared up yesterday thinking about Joel’s senior year, which started today. (Oddly, I didn’t cry this morning.)
    Your 2 points are RIGHT ON. I’ll keep reminding myself of this and posting it so others will know as well. (And by the way, you were cool as a cucumber online through all of this.) I have a feeling both our sons will be OK. After all, God’s got ’em…and us.
    😉 Visiting via #thoughtprovokingThursday.

  19. First off, I found your blog from the shine link-up. Secondly, I’m glad I did! and Third, my little girl is only 5 but I had a ROUGH day on Tuesday because the fact she will be in school this year hit my pretty hard. If 5 years went by that fast, she’ll be your sons age in NO time and I’ll be feeling this way! lol.

    Anyways, glad I found your blog – excited to be following along!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Whitney! It’s so hard to let them grow up, even when they are little. My youngest is 6 and I can’t believe she’s in 1st grade. I literally cried at her kindergarten graduation last year! Definitely part of the White Knuckle Momma’s Club!

  20. I love what God taught you through that check out clerk! So inspiring!
    And I know that it’s hard to let go of our kids, but if you think about it, we are all in danger every day, our kids included, and God has protected us from disaster more times than we can imagine. His power is not limited in one country compared to another. Nor is His love limited.
    May we pray with the psalmist, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” (Psalm 56:3)

    1. So true, Ruth! God is our source. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m not really in charge! Thanks for visiting!

  21. Hugs, sweet Mama! White knuckles and I have found each other lately! Ha! Just in these new teenage years, letting him begin to venture has tugged at my heart. I find myself reminiscing of the days when he was a baby and I could hold him all day long and control most everything! So, thank you for the little reminder that God is good at being God! I can take a deep breath, exhale, and know He’s got this!

    Blessings and smiles,

  22. Alisa- yes a white knuckle momma here too. What a blessing your son will be to those in India!
    My oldest is 15 and I think it will be a slow process of mental release for me. The tips you gave are great and I just have to let God. They are His children anyway, He just loans them to us for a little while.
    My love is no where near His love for them!
    Your #faithfilledfriday neighbor,

    1. Yes, yes and yes, Julie! I had to let go over time too. Not too much at once! Letting God show me when to hold my ground and when to let go has been crucial. (I’d still be holding on without His guidance. ) Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Alisa – what an awesome testimony this is of a personal struggle turned into a God encounter! I love the conversation you had with the cashier at Best Buy. And, you my friend, are such an encouragement to this “white knuckle momma.” I have to work extra hard to set my fears aside and let my boy grow up and enjoy the adventure of life. I don’t like it, but I know if I push my fears onto him, he will miss out on so much in life… especially what God has for him. Thanks you for your encouragement today! Big hugs to you!!!

    1. You are so right, Leigh Ellen! It’s hard to let go, but it’s even harder to try and hold on. (And it’s really not healthy for us or them!) thanks for reading today, friend!

  24. Why, yes, I am, Alisa! My 20 year old son is seriously considering moving to California with a friend of his. They both want to find jobs that are supposedly ripe and cutting-edge in California versus where we live in the Midwest. But there are so many risks that I see and I was like you, that at first, I was excited for him. Overtime, my white-knuckle worries kicked in and now I’m desperately trying to trust that God will protect him even if this is a foolish move on his part. Thanks for your words of wisdom on this, my friend. Always good to know I’m not alone in this tendency! 😉

    1. Oh my! That is hard, Beth! It’s never easy to let them go, but it’s especially hard when we aren’t certain it’s the right avenue to take. Praying that God perfect plan is revealed to him and that God would protect him along the way!

  25. This is such a great post! I work in college ministry and can tell you the number one hindrance to college students serving God on mission is their parents.

    1. Thanks, April! It’s so hard to let go, but if we want them to be all God created them to be, we have to learn to let go! Even when that means letting them fail.

  26. This is the dilemna of motherhood isn’t it? I too have to wrestle with the white knuckle issue, and I love the truth of tightening our grip on God at the same time we loosen the grip on our children. I think one of the greatest lessons I am learning on this journey is how deeply and completely God loves and cares for my children…beyond what I am ever humanly capable of. Praying for you and all of us who pour our souls into such a blessed calling, that we can pour our trust into God! Crystal~

    1. Yes, that is a great lesson! Sometimes I forget that God loves my kids more than I do. Thank you for your prayers and for visiting!

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