By Sarah Nyhan
A heart cry more than a cerebral piece.
It has taken me almost two years, but I am starting to understand that there is a big difference between giving up and letting go.
Giving up says, “I’ve messed things up too much. What’s the point in even trying or hoping anymore?”
Whereas letting go says, “God is always on my side. I never know what surprises the future may hold. Whether in this life or whatever comes next. I’m going to aim for what my heart desires and trust God when doors close.”
Of course easier said than done. It seems every time I think I have this down, I start to lose my grip on something I didn’t realize I was holding onto. As much as I fight letting go, I can see in hindsight all the positive things that come out of it.
Chiefly that my identity and security were and to a much smaller extent probably still are tied to so many things other than truth. My identity used to be tied to things like my career, the car I drive (which sounds so abhorringly superficial when I think of it now), my education, the clothes I wear, the place I live, my size and marital status, the people close to me, my health, etc.
I’ve had to let it all go. It’s not been taken away from me so much as those things have been allowed to crumble and fade away.
Who are you without everything in this world that you know and love? We work so hard. Building up our little castles – monuments to our egos. What happens to you and your sense of value and worth when you can’t have any of that anymore? Who are you? With none of the relationships you hold dear, no community, no home, etc? Who would you be?
It’s a blessing and very difficult at the same time to find out, to go on that journey. I’ve never had so little and yet felt so full, so assured.
I am a child of God. It sounds like religious happy talk. So few words make something so huge appear a bit simplistic and trite. But finding our source in who we really are is the beginning of everything important.
And yet no watershed of relief in this world followed. Quite a shock. “Is this how You treat Your kids, God?!” Round and round we go until I see truth. My logic another hack job. When there is so much more to unpack. But perfect love lets me ask those hard questions. We are down to the minute these days. I pray to see clearly and then kick and fight as all distractions disintegrate and leave my soul naked. Raw and irritated. By this life and its disappointments.
I’ve become aware of how results-obsessed our culture is. As if the doing of something has no value unless it produces what is aimed for. As if running the race is not worth the time unless you can finish or win. We shame each other so much. I’m guilty also. Of not holding space for people, and especially loved ones, to work through stuff and grow.
More to the point, I’m my own worst enemy. Are you your own worst enemy? Society doesn’t help; for sure I’ll give you that. But this is where identity in Christ alone can literally save us.
I’m learning to let go. Of perfectionism. I proved that I could get a 4.0 GPA. Quite frankly, nobody seemed to care half as much as I did. It was pure masturbation of my ego. To put it quite crudely. I was quite disappointed that no one else seemed that impressed. In hindsight, now amusing; since I’ve learned to take myself less seriously.
Now that my identity is in Christ, I can take that phone call or that nap in exchange for a loss of a few points off my GPA. Unthinkable in the past. Now my GPA and impossible standards of perfection don’t define me.
But letting go doesn’t mean giving up. In the past I’ve been known to drop classes if I thought I’d get anything less than an A. Ridiculous waste of time and money!! Now I let go of my perfectionist ways and I sit with that B or that C. Gasp! As uncomfortable as it makes me.
But I don’t start up on the self-hate speech. Well, maybe for a little bit. But there is no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus. So I’m learning to listen for Holy Spirit, take my ego out of it, and yet still look for what I can do differently to get the grade I want to get next time. Knowing I don’t need it, but allowing myself to want it as long as I weigh it properly among my other priorities. That healthy balanced life. More of a full person who is actually living than a dysfunctional robot cloaking my insecurities behind so-called religious zeal.
This is not a pretty picture in process. As with most works of art. So I’m in good company. You are also. This beautiful human race. As broken as we can be. Capable of so much even as we muddle through our depths.
Another example. I now know the cure for codependency: this already included truth. If God is already and always for everyone, if He is changing our minds about Him versus us changing His mind, then that means Holy Spirit is ALWAYS on the job and I can truly let go. While at the same time not giving up on people. I can still honor my heart’s desires for their health and restoration of all things. I can still love. But that looks very different than the sickness of codependency where we attempt to manipulate people into doing what we think they should do. Well-intentioned or not. Only a heart fully trusting in God’s heart for ALL can let the prodigal go away. Can honor his choice. Can respect him. Truly. While always keep an eye on the horizon. That’s letting go but not giving up.
There are so many more examples. But those are the two that have been on my mind.
To take it back to the Bible, giving up is what the Israelites did multiple times after leaving Egypt. They only saw their own understanding. They didn’t trust God yet. They panicked and wanted to run back to what they knew each time it looked like the odds were against them. Understandable in many ways. We are not much different.
But God… continues to answer our prayers. Continues to knock at our hearts. As long as we want to take.
Lord, let me be like those men with Daniel. Who when they faced the fire, they let go but didn’t give up. They said You could save them on this earth but even if You didn’t, they would still follow You.
Let me be like Esther who let go of everything in this life but didn’t give up. She marched in there maybe on her uncle’s faith more than her own. But she still did it.
Let me be like Joseph. Though everything looked like the end, he kept his integrity. He didn’t turn bitter. He let go, but he didn’t give up on You.
Let me be like the other Joseph. Who woke up one day to his future wife telling him she was pregnant by God. The odds? A dream but then the onslaught of reality. He let go of his plans but he didn’t give up on You. He stayed with her as they faced poverty and persecution.
Let me be like another Mary. Who followed You to The Cross. Her only love and hope. Ripped apart and away. She let go, but she didn’t give up on You. She went to where she knew to find You. She gave You her tears. She knew You cared. She trusted Your heart even though she was devastated by her loss. You showed up and she knew You saw her.
Please do that for us, Lord. As we traverse this world that needs so much to know the real You. As I need to let go even more and enjoy You each day in the middle of doing life. Not future-tripping, but letting go and letting You surprise me. Leaving myself open to the mysteries of how great You can be beyond the boxes I try to nail You in.
We love You, Lord. We thank You, Jesus. We don’t even know what we ask for when we pray big prayers, God. Please help us, Father. I know You already do, but what else is there to say except ‘help’ and ‘thank You’?
We want to be fully who You created us to be. I feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface. We let go of all our attempts to do something great for Your approval. And instead choose not to give up on us particpating with You on the dreams in our hearts. Knowing either way You are especially fond of us. You love us and we love You.