Letting Go

Lately I’ve been thinking about the whole process of moving on and letting go of things or people in your life. Letting go is something I have been notoriously terrible at in the past. I’ve been working on letting go of the things I don’t need, or are unhealthy for me. Its such an interesting part of life. Its never easy, and if you care about the thing you have to let go of it always hurts. It seems my life has been filled with disappointments. I try to invest in something and it blows up in my face, forcing me to let go of yet another hope for something better, or avenue of progress. I never thought I’d be here at this point in my life. Its a struggle most days for me to not see my life as pathetic or a failure, in light of where I wanted to be at this point. 

Another thing I think I’ve had a hard time dealing with over the last few years is losing my best friend. He died when I was 19 years old. It was such a shock to everyone. I had no idea how much his death would impact my life. From this point on, I saw every potential friend as someone who will probably leave, and they never disappointed. As time went on, I became bitter towards all relationships. Now don’t misunderstand me here, I don’t blame everything on his death. In many ways I was already like this. I already acted selfishly, but his death definitely affected how I related to people from that point on. His death taught me a lot about life over the next few years. He always encouraged me to be a better person and held me accountable for the times I was being a complete jerk. He always challenged me to let go of who I thought I was and stop living like the person I think I am and live out the life God wanted for me. He was a great friend. We had known each other almost our entire lives. When people ask me what the hardest thing I’ve ever done was, I say it was singing at his funeral. That was the longest 3 and a half minutes of my life. 

I just find it extremely fascinating how we hang on to things, or people in our lives that are really just holding us back. We tote our baggage like we have some obligation or moral duty to carry out, some penance to pay. We are sentimental creatures. Though we may adapt well, we don’t like change. We don’t want to have to let go of anything. I wonder why this is? Maybe in the beginning we were never supposed to have to let go of anything. Maybe we were created in light of the ideal human life. The ideal would have been to only ever have one spouse, not dating multiple people, having sex with multiple people, marrying multiple people, having kids with multiple people. The ideal would have been to stay in one place and grow old there. The ideal would have been to provide for yourself and your family in such a way that it fulfills your very nature as the caregiver. The ideal would have been to not create so many insecurities for ourselves, to be confident and whole, to be strong and faithful. In an ideal world, we should be able to live out a life that pleases God, each other, and ourselves. Though God created us for this ideal world, He did not intend for us to live in this world, at least not yet. 

So we come to the great conundrum of our existence. How do we reconcile within ourselves a longing that cannot be fulfilled in this lifetime. How do we overcome the aching in our souls, this pain that tells us that everything is wrong. We scream for justice. We demand that the wrongs in our life be made right, and God says “all in good time.” Each time we are faced with having to let something go, whether a relationship, a material possession, or even the acceptance of the end of a chapter in our lives, we are reminded of our wounds, our brokenness that tells us that something is fundamentally wrong. It becomes so evident that we are more like aliens on a foreign planet. You see, I look at something as simple as letting go of something that means a lot to me as so much more than that. Its how we react to such a circumstance that means everything. I look at life from this perspective and can’t help but see evidence that God not only exists, but that He created me. Furthermore, God not only created me, but He created me for more than this life. 

C.S. Lewis so beautifully describes this concept in his book “The Weight Of Glory.” When talking about this longing we cannot quite define or place, this stirring within us for something more than ourselves or what this world has to offer, Lewis writes,

“There we are warned that it may happen to anyone of us to appear at last before the face of God and hear only the appalling words, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me.’ In some sense, as dark to the intellect as it is unendurable to the feelings, we can be both banished from the presence of Him who is present everywhere and erased from the knowledge of Him who knows all. We can be left utterly and absolutely outside—repelled, exiled, estranged, finally and unspeakably ignored. On the other hand, we can be called in, welcomed, received, acknowledged. We walk every day on the razor edge between these two incredible possibilities. Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation.”

We have this desire within us that we cannot explain, nor define. This desire burns within us like an untamable fire. We so strongly feel the need to pursue things that make us feel connected to something. If we aren’t pursuing God, we pursue worthless pleasures, idols, false gods, and a number of other things. We are searching for the fountain that makes us whole again. We are longing to return to the garden in which we came from. We search far and wide for the beauty we once experienced, as though we can feel what Adam and Eve experienced, deep in our bones. 

Lewis continues, ” We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become a part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses and nymphs and elves—that, though we cannot, yet these projections can enjoy in themselves that beauty, grace, and power of which Nature is the image. That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods. They talk as if the west wind could really speed into a human soul; but it can’t. They tell us that ‘beauty born of murmuring sound’ will pass into a human face; but it won’t. Or not yet. For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendour of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so far as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy.”

Lewis, in a valiant attempt to sum up his feelings and opinions of his very existence seeming misplaced, says in this famous quote “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” 

We are made for another world. A world in which the decay of time is not present. A world in which we hold on to what is meaningful, and we will never have to let it go. I cannot wait to be reunited with the ones I love. But even more so, I cannot wait to be reunited with the source of all that I know and long for, the way a Creator is reunited with His creation. Every time I have to acknowledge the passing of yet another loved one, or a chapter in life, I acknowledge everything in light of this realization. 

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