Letting go. It seems to be all I have been doing for the past couple of years. Last week I spoke of letting go of my house and it’s belongings, having lived there with my husband and three children for nearly thirteen years. For a few months I have been living in a town home while I arduously cleaned out the old house. It was a mere two days after listing the house that I let go of my sweet fifteen year old puppy. We rescued this pup only a couple weeks after we closed on our house, and the little guy has enriched our lives ever since. It seems fitting that his life would end so close to the house being listed, after all, the move to the new place was difficult for him. Anxiety dominated his day, and his vision and hearing were nearly gone. Navigating his new surroundings was a daily challenge.
It has been a great struggle to let this puppy go. On the day that this little friend joined my husband in heaven, I was overcome with great sorrow, as well an overwhelming sense of guilt. It convicts me to say this, but I experienced a profound sense of relief. I knew it was the right decision, and I was reassured of my actions upon further reflection, but the guilt feelings remained. The little black and white friend was a part of the family. He made it into graduation photos, family Christmas letters, and signatures on greeting cards. Well-loved his whole life, the little guy was counting on me to end his suffering, and to be able to do so was not easy. Yet gone were the days of long walks, bladder control, and independence on the stairs. The time had come, and I was the grown-up that had to make the decision.
The absence of my furry critter has caused me to reflect on other significant relationships in my life. As a pastor, I have had to change churches a number of times. With each change I was required to let go of relationships that had been really important to me, and me to them. Difficult though it is, the congregation and pastor are charged with letting go of one another in order to form new relationships. Key companions on my journey of life had to be released whether I was ready to do so or not.
I struggle with letting go and the feelings of grief associated with it. Sometimes it feels as if I have lost my way and am wandering aimlessly in the desert. It’s lonely there, and I find myself longing for the relationships that used to sustain me, even those that were not always the best for me. So in the desolate place of letting go, I pause, I pray, and I try my hardest to move on with God’s guidance. I discover that when I attempt to let go, it provides the needed space for God to do new things in my life; things that often bless me even more than I expected. The Prophet Isaiah says:
“Don’t remember the prior things;
don’t ponder ancient history.
Look! I’m doing a new thing;
now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it?
I’m making a way in the desert,
paths in the wilderness.” (Isaiah 43: 18-19, CEB)
It is on my “path in the wilderness” that I find myself standing. So I look to the left, I turn to the right, and I trust that God has “a new thing” in store for me. I already have a new home; I still have a sweet puppy who needs my care; I hope a new life partner is around the nearest bend in the road. I don’t know what is next, but if I trust that God is doing far more than I can comprehend, then there is something wonderful out there for me. The only way to clutch this new thing is to let go of “prior things” that are likely holding me back from a full life. It is time to release the trauma of my husband’s death, the physical space of my house, and the sweet puppy of thirteen years.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
We are all in a state of letting go as we experience the COVID-19 pandemic. We have had to let go of gatherings, face to face interactions, and activities that once filled our calendars. On this Holy Saturday, we are in our own time of darkness, just as Jesus was before the joy of the resurrection on Easter morning. Yet in the letting go of Easter traditions this year, we are afforded the gift of time: the time to spend with family doing what matters most; the time to ponder the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross; the time to discern what is really important in our lives.
Friends, as you grieve the changes this spring, seek ways to embrace the opportunities that might be coming to you this Easter that would otherwise not be there. Use this time to let go of those things that pull you away from a closer relationship with the Savior and with the people you love.
LET US PRAY
Lord of Life, I thank You for guiding me to let go of those things that draw me away from You and the abundant life You have in store for me. Show me how best to use the time that I now have because of letting go in other areas. Guide me and guard me through this difficult time. Amen.