Let it go.
Sometimes it can sound trite. Too easy an answer for some pretty difficult and complicated problems.
Or it may seem to suggest that we’re walking away from — simply abandoning — people or situations or responsibilities that are overwhelming to us.
Earlier this week, I shared how I’ve been finding freedom in letting go of some specific things: guilt, shame, and regret. Impossible standards and unrealistic expectations. Bitterness and unforgiveness. Worry, negativity, and misery.
But that’s only part of the story… half of the equation. See it’s not just about letting it go.
Jesus has promised us His grace, His freedom, His healing, His peace, His joy, His hope… and we need to choose to hold on to those things.
We can let go of the things that hold us back, keep us stuck in the past, weigh us down, worry us, discourage us, or defeat us, because we have something so much better to hold on to.
We can let go of the things that we can’t control because we’re not abandoning them — we are entrusting them to Someone who can do so much more than we can ask or even imagine. (Eph 3:20)
And we are holding on to Him.
And even when we’re not, He’s holding on to us.
I was thinking about this the other day, and it reminded me of a scenario I’ve experienced many times over as a big sister, Auntie, and school teacher. (Not a perfect analogy, but I think you’ll get the idea.)
Imagine we’re on a field trip, crossing a busy street, and I’ve got a preschooler by the hand. If she’s feeling happy and cheerful — or even a little nervous about the traffic — she’ll squeeze my hand tight and stick close to my side, and feel safe knowing that she’s holding on to me.
But really, I’m holding on to her. Because even if she gets distracted or relaxes and releases her grip… even if she moves a little further away … I’m not about to let go of her hand. I know better than she does, just how dangerous this big world is. And this precious child is my responsibility. She may not be aware of it. She may not feel as safe and secure, as she would if she held tight and stuck close. But I’ve still got her.
Let’s say this four year-old decides she wants to run back to the bus for something. Or she wants to catch up with a friend half a block away. Or she’s mad at me for not letting her do something she wanted to do — or whatever. She doesn’t want to hold my hand. (Remember in this scenario, she’s “my child” — my responsibility.)
Am I going to let go? Of course not.
She starts squirming, twisting, turning, trying to get loose. If she’s really committed, she might try sitting down, to use her body weight for leverage. (Can you tell I’ve actually been in this scenario? I might even have played both roles.)
But it’s not going to work. I’m not about to let go. We’re in traffic!
She’ll either sulk or cry or scream, “You’re hurting me!” And I know she is in pain. When she takes a breath, I point out very gently, very calmly, that how much pain she’s in is her choice. A lot of it will go away as soon as she lets go of her anger and frustration, stops kicking and screaming and squirming, and stands up. It’ll relieve some of the pressure immediately.
Sometimes it takes a while. But she’ll get it eventually. And when she does, she’ll start walking beside me again… somewhat tentatively. When she sees that I’m cheerful — not angry at her or vindictive toward her — ready for a fresh start, determined to still make it a great day, she’ll relax more and more. In a few minutes, she’ll be smiling and laughing and holding my hand tight. She might even start skipping. And I might join her.
Again, it’s not a perfect analogy for every situation, but it’s pretty close to what I’ve often experienced in my relationship with Jesus.
I’ve learned that I feel safest and most secure, when I’m holding tight to Him. But even when I’m not — even when I don’t feel close to Him — He’s still got me. A lot of the pain I experience comes from — or is at least exacerbated by — my attempts to pull away from Him, to run out ahead of Him, or handle things my own way.
And while I still may have some residual pain, I find immediate relief, immediate help, comfort, and strength, when I surrender… when I stop fighting Him and start holding tight to His hand.
But no matter what, I rest in the knowledge that He’s holding on tight to me.
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help… He reached down from on high and took hold of me.” Psalm 18:6a, 16a
On Tuesday, What Women Should Know About Letting It Go is available at bookstores and online nationwide!