If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you know that I write directly from the places I am struggling in my own heart. Places that many people don’t like to even acknowledge, let alone talk about.
But through your emails and messages this community has taught me that the truth is we all struggle in the same places. The places where our deepest joy and hope meet our greatest need and suffering.
There is no story that hasn’t been broken, no life that hasn’t held pain.
And not one of us has found what we were looking for, desperately holding on with our own strength.
The secret is letting go.
Letting go of what other people think of us. What other people expect or demand of us. The unreasonable or impossible things we expect of ourselves. Letting go of our plan, our timing and our rigid perspectives of what should be.
I don’t know about you, but I’m seriously afraid of heights.
Letting go is the absolute last thing that makes any logical sense when you’re standing up higher than you’ve ever been, exposed and vulnerable and shaking with fear. And yet. That free fall, the moment between our feet leaving the platform and our faith proving true, is the purest freedom we can find this side of heaven.
Letting go doesn’t come easy and for those of us who struggle with control, I think it’s something we will always have to choose. But I believe we can practice choosing to let go. Practice putting our faith into action through the process of surrender.
Here are a few ways you can practice letting go:
Stop thinking, start doing
For the last four years our family has attended family camp. Just one part of this amazing place is the opportunity to challenge your fear. Last year I tried the zip line. This year I took to the high ropes course.
Honestly, I stood on the ground watching for about 45 minutes and was about to sneak back through the woods and not do it at all. But in a moment of strength or stupidity, I’m not quite sure, I just put on the harness and started to climb. I knew if I thought about what lay before me one more minute, I would walk away. And so I stopped thinking about it and started doing it.
Once I got up in the air the challenges kept my mind occupied. My dizzying fear of heights fell to the periphery of the challenges ahead. A vanishing bridge, swinging ladder and free fall swinging rope to get back on solid ground…I had a lot to face besides my fear.
And I realized fear keeps me small. Fear keeps me on the ground and not in the race. And I want to run this race. When you feel overcome with fear and the challenges that lie ahead of you, just take the next right step. All you have to do is take the next step.
Find a support team
One thing I have realized in my journey of self discovery is there are others just like us! Sometimes it feels like a lonely road but there are so many people on the same path. People who want to know themselves better, find where their past holds them back, and rise to become braver and better for it. Find your people. Find the ones who love you in spite of your shortcomings and encourage you to pursue your dreams. Let go of your critics and embrace your cheerleaders. Learn to encourage others and let them encourage you.
Just do it
This past weekend my whole family decided to jump off the high dive on our cousin’s dock. Actually, they decided to do it and told me if I wanted to be part of the team then I had to do it too. I didn’t want to. In fact, I had done it before and didn’t actually like it very much and didn’t really see the point in doing it again.
But they are persuasive little buggers and pretty soon they started chanting “Go, Go, GO, GO!” They’re relentless, really. And so I started to climb. As I reached the top of the platform my hands gripped the rails. The wind was blowing and I could feel the rickety old staircase sway with the breeze. It certainly didn’t feel secure but as my heart started pounding and I looked down into the lake below I couldn’t unwrap my fingers from the rusted through handrails.
As they continued to chant and encourage me louder and louder from below, I realized their encouragement wasn’t helping me at all. In fact, I needed it to be quiet. I needed to find that still calm place of peace within myself in order to find the strength to let go.
Sometimes we need the support team. Other times we need to trust in the quiet of our own self. This was one of those times. When all the noise disappeared and I took that moment to remember what I know to be true, I stepped off that platform in both fear and faith and found myself finally free. Even if only for a moment.
Letting go is never something that is going to be easy. Once we master our skill in one area we are sure to find ourselves lacking faith in another. But I’m learning that faith doesn’t mean that we aren’t still afraid. It doesn’t mean that we don’t see the possibilities or question our abilities — it just means we trust in something bigger and greater than ourselves.
It means we’re willing to risk what we know to discover what we haven’t yet seen.
The older I get, the less sure I am about anything. But one thing I am sure of is that God is in the details.
When things go wrong or our path seems to be thrown off course we can always look back to a God who has been faithful. And knowing He has been faithful in the past helps us to know He will be faithful in this, our present. And our future.
Holding on has never been a sign of strength. Especially holding on when the railings are rusted and the bolts are coming loose and our platform is swaying in the breeze! But how often do we find ourselves in that very place?
Surrendering our plan, submitting to faith and letting go in the midst of our fear is our greatest strength.
God is for us. His plans are to prosper us. What man means for harm, He means for good. We can choose to believe in His promises, the only ones that are true, by letting go in spite of our fear and stepping out into the promise of faith.
And this crazy family of mine — this one full of boys and crazy, rowdy antics — well they’re teaching this momma to fly.