In the fall of 2010, there was an ad on TV that used “Leaving on a Jet Plane” as its theme song. It was a slightly bouncier version than the one I had always heard sung by John Denver and the tune got ingrained in my head for a time. I started singing the song one day, only to have my youngest, then five years old, start bawling her eyes out.
“Am I singing that badly?” I asked.
“Oh no Mommy, you sing beautifully,” she replied with great emotion. Yes, I shall keep this child forever.
Nobody had ever said anything like that to me. The closest I had ever gotten to a singing compliment before that moment was my stepdaughter telling me in her best tweener surprised tone, “that actually sounded okay.” Her ringing endorsement came after hearing me sing “Amazing Grace” to my firstborn when she was a wee baby—sometimes singing that song was the only way I could get that baby girl to stop crying.
Anyhow, apparently the lyrics to the plane song made the young one believe I was actually leaving and never coming back. At that time, I had no plans to get on a jet plane and not know when I was coming back again. Little did I know that six months later I would fly away a few times to be with my mom before she died. Bless that little girl’s heart, she bravely let me get on the plane even though, I eventually found out, she was afraid each time I went that I was never coming back.
I never knew how much that time of flying back and forth impacted her until one evening recently when the young one came to me and said, “Mommy, I have a question for you, but I don’t think I can get it out.” She began crying inconsolably.
Eventually she managed to ask if I was invited to go to Italy for a couple of years, would I go. Something about the way she asked made me wonder. “By myself? Without you?” She nodded yes and started crying again. What in the world?
“Never would or could I leave you like that. I couldn’t bear to be without you,” I assured her as she broke down sobbing while I held her tightly.
Her doubt that evening came from having just watched an iCarly episode when Carly chose to leave wherever she lived to go live with her father in Italy for a couple of years. That episode somehow made her wonder if I would choose to go live my life elsewhere without her. I guess I should be grateful she didn’t feel the need to ask her dad, but I’m saddened she worries that I will leave her. How could she possibly believe such a thing? Doesn’t she know how much I love her?
She revealed that she still sometimes sings “Leaving on a Jet Plane” in her head and is afraid that I will go. Had I known how much heartache that song would cause, I would have never sung it anywhere near her.
The unfortunate thing about this life is that I can’t make rock solid promises about whether I’ll be alive when she grows up or even what will happen from day to day. Being healthy has not been my strong suit through my days on earth and I can’t make her any promises that I will be fine. I’ve made it this far, but I can’t know what lies ahead anymore than anyone else can. I hope and pray that I will live long enough to watch her grow up and be there to walk with her through rough times and also celebrate her milestones and other wonderful things life has to offer. But nobody knows what will come.
What I have promised her is that as long as it depends on me, I will never leave and not come back. I will never choose to be without her.
How much more the promises of God? I will never leave you or forsake you. His promises are stronger and more sure than rock solid. His promises aren’t dependent on anything but Him. If He says it, it will be. Why then do I doubt Him in this? Why would I believe anything different? Simply, I sometimes get the wrong song in my head and need to change the lyrics that I’m listening to.
If you have any suggestions for a new song to sing to the young one so she can replace the stupid plane song, I’d appreciate it. If, however, you’ve got your own stupid plane song ringing in your head, focus on the following lyrics whenever you get that old feeling that God just might turn His back on you and leave without another thought of you…
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“I will never leave you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:5c
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. Psalm 27:10
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b