15 December 2017

Consider… The importance of letting go.

A  week ago my sister-inlaw, Charity, turned 21. Many see this as a great opportunity to have a party with friends and family, or perhaps see it as a chance to request a special gift, a keepsake for the years to come – not Charity … she decided to celebrate and mark the momentous occasion by doing a bungee jump! This is not something I personally have any desire to do (I’m just too scared), but Charity was so excited about it and, after getting over the initial moments of just being plain happy to still be alive, she was euphoric because of the experience. I was really interested to speak with her about each small moment of the great event. How did it feel to stand at the edge ready to dive? What goes through your head as you experience the free-fall? Do you give space to the thoughts that warn something might go wrong? Charity was so straightforward in her review. She said that she was full of excitement until she stood on the ledge and peered into the chasm beneath – it was only in that moment that she uttered the words, “I can’t do this.” The swift response of the instructor was simply, “Yes you can, just let go.” With that word of encouragement Charity put her trust in the trainer and in the cord, and stepped off the bridge.

Over the last year I have been building up to my own metaphorical ‘ledge’ moment. It is a million miles away from the danger and the emotional rush of the bungee jump, but it requires the same grit determination to simply close my eyes, step out and ultimately let go. My big challenge is my eldest son starting nursery school. I struggle with the thought that on the first day I will have to walk away, leaving him to make sense of his new environment and playmates. For me, that moment will be as difficult as Charity’s step off the bridge. I know many of you join me in this experience, or perhaps some of you are a little further down the road and will be dressing your children in a school uniform for the first time, readying them to embark upon P1, or first year in high school. Perhaps some of you reading this in September have had to face the more monumental task of packing up your son or daughter and leaving them off to university for the first time, aware that, particularly if they are studying on the mainland, you are saying goodbye for the coming months, not just until 12noon like myself. Whatever your stage, I imagine our feelings are similar – a wild excitement for all that lies in store for our child, juxtaposed with a heart wrenching and terrifying awareness that, with this step we are having to let them go.

I have been learning that letting go is hard, but essential. What kind of adult would my son turn into if I didn’t send him out and give him the opportunity to experience new things and develop his own independent personality? Through the act of letting go we create room in our lives for growth and change, for new challenges and enriching experiences. This is also most evident in our spiritual lives. As we strive to grow daily in our faith we are challenged to move away from the things of our past, to let go of many of the habits and mindsets we have and move into the new things God has for our futures. Phillipians 3:12-14 says, “… I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” It can be frightening to release the things that we are familiar with, the thoughts and behaviours that are as comfortable as old slippers to us. The truth is that if they are not in lin  with Scripture we must be willing and faithful enough to take the daunting step off the ledge and let them go. It’s only in this release that the richness of all that God has in store for us can really be experienced.

Perhaps the most demanding of all acts of letting go is that of forgiveness. In teaching us how to pray, Jesus said, “Forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matt 6:12) It is a fundamental teaching because God knows it brings so many benefits to each of us. As Christians we have repented of our sins and have received God’s complete forgiveness, to our eternal benefit. Having been forgiven of so much, it is incumbent on us to forgive others for the wrongs done against us. God does not set this as an impossible challenge, rather He commands it from us because it is a key to our spiritual and psychological freedom. Those who count up and hold on to the many slights and wrongs done against them become weighed down by bitterness and a desire to exact revenge. In letting go, forgiving and forgetting, we give the hurt to God and allow Him to deal with it. The first step of acknowledging our need to forgive others and asking God sincerely to help us do this can be a terrifying prospect. However, when we, like Charity, listen to the words of our trainer and hear the encouragement that we can do it, we just need to let go, we are released in the free-fall freedom of God’s love, grace and abundant blessings. That’s better than any bungee jump, don’t you think?

WORDS Christine Cordner