Ah Spring! The time when a woman’s fancy swiftly turns to thoughts of cleaning and decluttering and reorganizing…
I remember one such spring, when in a frenzy, I attacked my overflowing filing cabinet, ever so determined to purge its contents ruthlessly.
I never got past “G” – for “GOALS” — where I had filed random journal entries that I’d torn out of a huge stack of half-empty notebooks, in a previous cleaning and consolidating binge. It was full of lists of my hopes and dreams, my goals each year for my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
I was flipping through pages, many yellowed with age – and others in the rainbow colors of the many different journals from whence they came – trying to decide if they were really worth hanging on to.
Maybe I should keep them as some sort of record of my journey, my personal, spiritual growth through the years…
And then it registered, as I turned page after page. They were all the same. Every year. Change the dates and adjust the number of pounds I hoped to lose (give or take a few), but everything else was more or less the same. Year after year after year.
I suddenly felt so hopeless. So defeated. So embarrassed for feeling smug about the Israelites wandering in circles in the desert for forty years.
Could I really have made so little progress? Was I seriously that stuck in a rut? Where was the abundant life Jesus promised? The victory over sin?
I spent the next ten years or so trying harder – or (alternately) giving up completely. Then desperately searching for a new method, a new approach, a secret or key to invigorate me and empower me to finally achieve victory.
But somewhere along the way, I discovered some unexpected answers to my questions.
Like that first one: “Could I really have made so little progress?” Well, yes and no.
Just because you repeat a subject in school doesn’t mean you haven’t learned anything. Most of us had reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic at least eight or ten years out of the twelve, if not fourteen or sixteen. But each year, we learned more… more levels, more layers, more challenges, more techniques.
Sometimes we do fail to pass a test – a subject or a grade level – because we need more time or more help. And sometimes we don’t see it. Sometimes in our stubbornness, we refuse the help we need.
Sometimes our Teacher (who is also our Father) allows our best efforts to fail so that we’ll understand how much we really need Him, so that we’ll learn to look to Him and trust Him and lean on Him.
Sometimes He lets us fail so that we learn that His love for us isn’t conditional – it isn’t dependent on what we do – what we achieve. (Imagine how miserable that would be!)
You don’t really know that He loves you the same whether you’re an “A-student” or an “F-student” until you actually get an F.
But He does. He absolutely does. Take it from me. (I’ve been A-F and everything in between!)
And then at some point, when you’ve learned to rest in that unconditional love, when you’ve learned to trust, learned to ask for the help you need – you find the strength to face what needs to be faced. You find the strength to see what you need to see. To grow where you need to grow. And be who He created you to be.
And there is freedom. There is hope. There is victory.
Because of Jesus.
Because of His amazing grace. Because of His love, His forgiveness, His mercy.
A few years ago I stopped making lists titled “GOALS.” (Before that makes me sound more spiritual than I am, I didn’t need to make lists anymore; I had them memorized long ago.) But I decided to focus more on the journey, more on the process, more on progress and not perfection.
I discovered that to do that, I was going to have to let some things go.
I was going to have let go of a lot of guilt, shame, and regret – over the sins of my past, my failures and my mistakes. I couldn’t carry it with me. I was also going to have to let go of some pretty impossible standards and unrealistic expectations I had set for myself, as well those others had set for me.
I’d need to let go of some hurt, bitterness, and unforgiveness. And the illusion that I was in control (or could be in control) of things, people, circumstances that no human being can control.
I wanted to let go of worry, negativity, and misery. And most of all, I wanted to let go of “lesser things” – things that distracted me from my true purpose, my true calling.
It turns out that this was the secret after all, the key… or at least a huge part of it. (I’ll share the other part later this week.)
Letting it go…
Letting go of the things that were weighing me down, keeping me in bondage to guilt, discouragement, and defeat.
Sweet friend, can I ask you – what do you need to let go, so that you can be free?
A week from today, my new book comes out… I can’t wait to share with you more of what I’ve been learning about What Women Should Know About Letting It Go!