My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?~Psalm 6:3
Letting go. A phrase that falls into the category of ‘easy to say, hard to do.’
Letting go. Such a foreign concept to me, but one so necessary for me to understand.
Depending upon what or whom we’re holding onto, it certainly isn’t easy or fun to rip open our hearts and share with one another what we’re struggling to keep a tight rein on in our lives, is it? It can be gruelingly difficult. It can be terribly embarrassing. And it can be downright painful. Very painful.
Each of us has something or someone that we need to let go of. Past regrets, guilt or shame. An ungodly attitude or an unhealthy addiction. An ugly, hurtful stereotype. A loved one who met with an untimely death. A child stepping into young adulthood and heading for college, the job market or the military. A broken relationship. A broken heart. A broken dream. Painful memories. Admitting we need to let go is one thing. Making the effort to actually DO IT is an entirely different story.
Our hands can become cramped and quite bloody from our inability to let go. I know mine are. There are things and people I’ve been holding onto for a very long time, not ready, willing or able to unclench my fists and let them slip from my grip. Why is that? For me, I think perhaps it has to do with my great expectations of life. For many, many years, I had this perfect vision of exactly how my life would turn out to be, what I was entitled to and what I deserved. I don’t think I’m alone here in having such expectations. After all, from the time we’re young, we’re encouraged to dream and dream big as we reach for the stars. We’re told we can be whomever we want to be or have whatever we want, it’s all within our grasp. And really, there’s nothing wrong with focusing on the positive and aiming high. But what happens when the dream is shattered and the stars disappear? When we wind up being secretary to the corporation president instead of BEING the president or turn out to be more like Mommie Dearest and less like Mother-of-the-Year?
As a flawed human being, I also tend to place these great expectations on other people, most especially on those whom I deeply love and care about, setting them up on Mt. Everest sized pedestals. But once again, what happens when they come crashing down around us? What happens when the perfect child suddenly turns into the prodigal child? How about when expectations of a storybook romance and marriage morph into an episode of Fractured Fairy Tales instead ?
Well, with me, here’s what happens. Surrounded by my shattered expectations and broken dreams, standing amidst the painful shards of disappointment, fear, anger, bitterness, sorrow, resentment and frustration, I throw back my head, shake my fist and shout things like, “Hey LORD, WHAT are You doing?! NONE of this was supposed to happen!!! You KNOW I didn’t sign up for THIS!! WHEN are You going to DO something? How much longer do I have to wait, Lord?!” I feel alone and forgotten, like God isn't paying attention or listening, and maybe never was. My faith, hope and trust in Him rapidly begin to disappear. But it shouldn’t. God loves me. He knows me. He’s on my side. But I forget about this as I begin doing damage control, desperately focusing on trying to hold onto those people, things and situations I feel are not following along accordingly with MY plans, or gripping tightly to whatever or whomever I believe is being unfairly snatched from my hands. I engage in a brutal tug-of-war and refuse to let go, because THEY’RE MINE, doggone it! But I need to let go. It’s what God desires and requires for me to do. Because really, everything I’ve ever had, currently have or will ever have all comes from God. By letting go, I’m freeing my hands up to receive whatever else God has for me. In the story of Job, after losing everything he had (except for his own life and his unsupportive, disparaging wife) Job said, “The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the LORD.” And by the end of the story, we learn that, ‘The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.’ But I forget about that, too.
For years I've been struggling to remain in control....of my family, of my health, of every painful circumstance that’s come down the pike in my life and threatened to trip me up and knock me down and out. But in the Kingdom of God, life isn’t supposed to be about being in control and holding onto things and people with a death grip. It’s supposed to be about surrender and letting go….to Him.
So what does letting go look like for me? What or whom do I need to let go of? I’ll share that in tomorrow’s post.