… What does it mean?
Ron and I recently made a whirlwind trip to California, driving 2,497 miles in six days. We went to visit our older daughter and her family. It was a marvelous trip in so many ways.
Even though it was going to add a few extra miles, we decided to make Boise, Idaho, our first stop in order to spend a bit of time with my husband’s sister and brother-in-law. We enjoy hanging out with Norma and Dave. Norma is one of the kindest, most talented women I’ve ever met. Dave is a man of integrity, intelligence and strong character. His commitment to family and personal responsibility is unquestionable.
Both live out their strong Catholic faith in consistent, loving and practical ways. For many years Norma, Dave, Ron and I have engaged in stimulating conversations about how our faith journeys intersect with everyday life and relationships. Our philosophies and perspectives don’t always match, but we agree that having our faith paradigms challenged periodically makes us better followers of Christ. Each of us desires to live in authentic ways that make a difference in the worlds where we’ve been placed.
During this latest visit, one of our conversations centered on the series of blogs I’ve been writing about “letting go” and “relinquishing.” In typical Dave fashion, he challenged me to explain just what I mean when I use these terms. He reminded me there are some things he doesn’t want to “let go” or “relinquish.” Challenges like the one Dave made propel wheels in my brain and cause me to think long and hard.
Often, I find it’s helpful to define what “is not” in order to clarify what “is.” That’s where my thoughts have been going since Dave’s challenge.
- The act of “Letting Go” and “Relinquishing” is not a mere exercise of my will, but is an expression of my faith.
- It is not “letting go” of the essence of who I am—my God-given personality, talents and abilities—but is my willingness to “relinquish” behaviors, tendencies and even generational patterns that tend to trip me up. “Letting go” is not meant to be negative or punitive but rather is positive and freeing.
- My act of “Letting Go” and “Relinquishing” is not losing, but is winning. Oftentimes, the prize is intangible—not a medal tucked into a box of memorabilia or gathering dust on a shelf— but rather a quality that makes a world of difference in how I journey through my days—qualities such as greater love, joy, generosity, peace, empathy, graciousness, kindness, gentleness, and inner confidence.
- “Letting go” is not giving up memories, but is choosing to “relinquish” the ongoing sting of memories. In the process, bittersweet memories soften, permitting sweetness to overpower bitterness.
- “Letting go” is not accepting, minimizing or excusing grievous wrongs committed against me—or even by me. It is reaching a point of willingness to “relinquish” the pain, forgive others or myself, and allow healing to happen.
- “Letting go” is not clinging to my will, my methods, my opinions, my past failure or even success, but is an act of “relinquishing” all of my past, my present and my future to God.
- “Letting go” is not a one-time event, but is a lifelong process of “relinquishing” bits of me as the kind and gracious Divine Spirit gives new insights and surprises me with spiritual ah-ha’s.
Jesus provides amazing examples of “letting go.” John 1 tells how Jesus, who existed from the beginning with God and as God, “relinquished” his Heavenly position and Godly authority to become part of humanity. I can barely wrap my mind around the thought of the God of the Universe coming to earth as a tiny baby who howled when it was time to nurse from his earthly mother, Mary’s breast or when he needed a diaper change. Wow! Talk about “letting go!”
Later, the man Jesus, illustrated servant leadership, when he “relinquished” his leadership authority to perform a task, which was in that culture the duty of a low-level servant. John 13 describes how Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist and began washing the feet of his disciples. John 13:15 records these words Jesus spoke about this act: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” This reminds me that as I make decisions to “let go” and “relinquish,” it serves as an example to those whose lives are influenced by mine.
Finally, the ultimate act of “relinquishing” is seen when Jesus knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed to his Father in Heaven about his impending cruel crucifixion. Matthew 26:39 describes the scene: “He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” The essence of “letting go” is the willingness to “relinquish” my will to a will that is far greater than mine.
Next time we meet, I want to take a look at a type of “letting go” I’m calling, “Relinquishing Unimaginable Loss.” That will conclude this series of thoughts on “letting go.” I hope you’ll join me.
Listening on YOUR Journey…
- What is something that your heart is saying, “Why don’t you let go of that?”
- Prickly Relationship(s)
- Anger about that over which you probably have no control?
- Messages from the past—as far back as childhood—that continue to define you?
- Fear of the future?
- Past wrongs committed against you?
- Past wrongs committed by you?
- The bitterness of loss or grief?
A long, lonely stretch of road between Boise and Reno, Nevada. Winter looms on the horizon!
Loved cheering for our grandson, Jackson (#27), who made his team’s only touchdown.
While Angie, Sydney and I shopped and ate lunch at a fancy restaurant in downtown Santa Rosa, Ron traveled to Pt. Reyes lighthouse. The trek up those 300 steps was a much better workout than shopping!