Last evening, I led a painting class (a new ministry tool the Lord has placed in my hands), at which we were creating ocean scenes. As my brush blended the hues of blues and white to create the cresting waves, my mind floated back to a summer three years ago.
Early one morning, I stood on the edge of sand, with my toes tickled by the foam created by waves lapping my feet. I wiggled my feet down into the cool, course sand, as I watched the blazing orange sun peek above the horizon, burning away the morning mist. In my palm, I held several small, smooth, black stones. Each had been named on the walk with Jesus a few minutes prior.
Fear of abandonment, a lie that I would hurt my family, forgiveness of a friend who had betrayed me, etc. was represented. For every thing that was still weighing me down like bricks in my backpack or holding me back like a bungee cord, I had carefully placed a stone in my pocket.
As I confessed those things to my heavenly Father, I heard “Let them go. Throw them into the sea of my love.” So, as each slipped and released from my fingertips, they splashed, then sunk deep into the ocean.
At first, I was afraid the crashing waves would wash them back to shore. But quickly I heard, “No, my love they are forever gone, washed away in my great love.” At that exact moment, sea gulls swooped over my head and flew toward the horizon. “Now, fly, daughter, fly!”
Letting go of things is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life, and from the discussion last night, I think it’s hard for many. For some, it may be letting go of someone who’s wounded you or abused your child. For others, a wayward child running from home, or still for some, a loved one whose untimely death leaves unasked questions and senseless heart ache.
Looking back on my own childhood, we were constantly on the move, rarely staying in one location more than six months. My parents never owned a home, but always went from a cheap rental home, to run down parsonage, as my father was a “pastor” who kept getting kicked out of congregations. So, as I grew older, I would long for friendships, family, but as soon as I would make one, we would be leaving again. Perpetually, I was always the new kid on the block or school. I learned to make friends quickly and hold onto to whatever I could, because it wouldn’t last long.
Even in the natural, after my parent’s divorced, my mom had taken all our things (favorite toys, dolls, anything she couldn’t just grab) and stored them into a shed in the back yard of our rental. She had no other place to put them. The plan was to return as soon as she could to retrieve them. As we walked up to the shed that day, a large steel padlock had been placed on the metal door. Taking my sleeve, I wiped a place clean on the cracked window pane, peered in, and wept, for I knew the little precious things I did have were gone forever.
As an adult, I still struggle to attach to things or people, and then when finally brave enough to do so, fear them being taken from me, or having to let them go. Letting friends into my heart has been a fearful and dangerous thing, because in the past, I’m just waiting for the ball to drop and them to leave me. Now, I know I’ve had much healing in this area, and truth has replaced many of those lies, but those gut reactions are so hard to completely break free of. It’s hard to let go, especially when it is a sudden death, like many of my friends are now facing, or a person you love intentionally or not, walking away.
In my early twenties, I had to face the sudden death of my closest friend.
With every ounce of faith in me, I believed without a doubt, she would be healed of cancer. So, when I sat in her basement a few hours before she saw Jesus’s face, I just wanted to grasp her and not let her go. Letting go of her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I still miss her twenty something years later. I can still see her smile and hear her laugh. One day I’ll be reunited with her, but until then letting go, saying goodbyes still stinks. Maybe we were meant to be together forever.
Even this past year, God has been digging at this place again, with a friendship I had let into my heart to a level I didn’t know that I had been capable of before. I’ve had sisters, and I love them, but growing up in an abusive home took its toll on our relationship at times. Because of those wounds, this heart of mine was highly trained in putting up some hefty barriers of protection; barriers with my husband, friendships, children, family, even God. But this young lady squeezed passed them into my heart, and after doing so, felt God tell her to back off and keep distance.
I don’t regret it. She pulled me into a new level of agape love, friendship, and finally connection that I should’ve been able to have all along. No matter what happens, I will always be grateful for her. Another friend, not knowing the situation, looked at me recently and said, “The Lord wants you to know, you have learned how to love, but to love, also means you will hurt sometimes.”
Now, to me it has felt like heartache, disappointment, and rejection: like a knife digging into my heart. It’s so strange though, because I feel like Yahweh is using it to heal places in me that I didn’t know I needed, nor how to get to. Blindly, I have to trust Him, releasing to Him the things I love most.
To some, this may make God sound harsh. It has felt harsh to me, and I’ve had quite a few heated conversations with my Heavenly Father over it. So many times, I just want to hold on for dear life to friends, family, the past seasons, etc.. It seems mean to take away things that you love, or to ask you to release the people you love, but I know God never, ever does anything out of meanness. He always, always acts in love on our behalf, always seeing a bigger picture.
If I am clutching on to something, like I still tend to do sometimes, because I’m so afraid of losing it or that relationship, then maybe that’s not really love anyway. Maybe it has the potential then to draw me away from my loving Father’s arms. God does want us to learn to love, to be able to properly attach to people and to Him, but He wants us to do that from a place of wholeness, not a place of needing that thing or person to fill a hole in our heart. That can go wrong very quickly, but when our heart is whole in Him, then our relationships with people will be a reflection of our loving relationship with Him.
If we are filling a place in our heart with someone or something else, then I’ve committed idolatry against God, and that never goes well for us, because He knows that His love is the only thing that can truly fill and make whole our hearts. This is a hard lesson to learn, especially from a girl who has had so many, many holes to fill.
Last time I blogged, it was on forgiving others, and even in that there is a letting go of our right to be right, a releasing of the person into the hands of a loving God, and trusting Him to do what’s best with the situation. It really all goes back to trust doesn’t it.
Can I, will I trust my heavenly Father? Does He really have my good in mind?
From what I have experienced of Him, I choose to trust that He is a good, good Father, and He does have my best interest at heart. My name is written on the palm of His great hand, and He will not forsake me. So, sometimes many times a day, I place my family, my friendships, the past seasons, unforgiveness, anger, fear, lies into His hands. I bring them to the cross of Jesus, and I let them go. Sometimes, it is over and over again.
This is not brushing it under the carpet, or stuffing pain in my heart. Pulling myself up by my bootstraps is tiring, and putting on my big girl panties many times just gives me a wedgie. I’m not saying walk in childishness or immaturity. There is a time we need to step up into maturity, and this is the process of that. Just trying to force my emotions into a “behave” yourself place, generally is a damaging thing to do.
I acknowledge, “Father, this stinks. This hurts. I don’t even know when it will stop hurting, but I let this go into your hands. I release this person, this season, this hurt, etc. into your hands, because I know you love me and know what’s best for this season in my life.” I let them go, I let things go, and I choose to trust the Father with my heart, with my life, with my friends, and family.
Trusting Him can be a hard thing to do, but as I am free falling into His arms of love, I find that maybe I can fly into new places of freedom.