As I get older, I’m becoming keenly aware of what letting go really means.
Admittedly, I have control over small things. I choose what to cook for dinner. I choose what clothing to wear. Menial choices through the day I dictate. Sometimes, just to shake things up, I brush my teeth last or shampoo before scrubbing. I can choose to be forgiving or harsh, yell or speak. I can choose to take a stand or be quiet, be involved or in the background. I can even choose to spend three hours watching Julia Child videos.
We have the luxury to live in a country where food is plentiful, choices can be made. We have freedom to roam and explore, think and create. And worship without being killed for it.
There are always things we can control. Each decision forms us, creates something of an imprint upon the world. Our interactions with other humans creates a ripple around us, and eventually those ripples become waves, and can change the tide of history. We can teach our children to abhor hate, quell violence, love the unlovable, forgive. It is hard, but doing hard things is what makes us valuable.
And yet there are times my sense of stability comes from the mirage of control, that somehow I singlehandedly can keep my children safe, keep my world safe, build protections around my heart so I am not easily injured. I like to build passageways in front of me, paved and clean. I think I know what’s best. How to raise children. How to discipline. How to create a healthy home. How to teach about God.
But maybe I don’t. What the hell do I know.
After the birth of my daughter, I had a life-threatening infection. I had no choice to let go. Because my body was literally too weak to go on. When I was going through a divorce that cut my heart out and shredded it into pieces, I collapsed and let it all go. Not because of my own strength, but because I had no more to give.
And here I am now, facing other life pressures. A future that’s uncertain, a life that’s so full of burdens. Questions that are seemingly unanswered, despite my pleading and begging and fasting and quiet. And it’s not through my perseverance that I trust and obey, but because of my weakness that I submit. I can choose tuna over ham, Mexican over burgers. I can put my high heels on or my sandals. But those decisions have no lasting consequences.
When it comes to life’s big turning points – Things That Need To Be Answered, all I have the strength to do is let it go. As if to the wind, carrying my prayers off on the waves that I’ve seen throughout my life, the spirit that flows in and out of me. Sometimes this current is strong and other times it recedes. I do not understand God, nor am I enlightened enough to see his divine handiwork. And yet I feel God at work in my life and in the lives around me. I feel it ebb and flow, in and out, always.
So I lay down at the very feet of God, curled up like my son does at night when I read him stories. My son buries his head in my chest as I read about turtles and aircraft carriers, dogs and bears. I, too, lay down at the feet of a father, soft and yet unyielding, not needing to be defined but only fully loved.
I need to know that I’m not wasting time. That all my life choices were not in vain, but have purpose. Trusting God is the only way through, and somehow I’ll make it through. This is the security that I seek. Not in my own control but in letting go. Always and forever safe in these arms.