Why Learning To Let Go is Key to Living With Joy

January 27, 2021

For as long as I can remember, my favorite Beatles song has been “Let it Be.” This is ironic, of course, because also for as long as I can remember, I have been a type A, over-analyzing, control freak. Letting things “be” is not frequently a strength of mine. Maybe that’s why I like the message of the song so much.

Releasing the Illusions that Bind Us

The concept of “letting go” isn’t new to any of us. How many times have we all heard cliché sayings like “let go and let God”? The frequency of which we are reminded of this concept does not make it easier to put into practice. We hold onto unspoken expectations of ourselves and others, past regrets, bitter memories, self deprecating ideas, fears of rejection etc. as though our survival depends upon it. In reality, our ability to thrive lies in the exact opposite: releasing the illusions that bind us. We must let go of the illusion that things could have been any different. And we must ask ourselves regularly: Am I observing the situation accurately or am I projecting how I feel onto what is happening?

Angelina Jolie once said “it’s hard to be clear about who you are when you’re carrying around a bunch of baggage from the past. I’ve learned to let go and move more quickly into the next place.” The wisdom here is simple, yet profound. Who we are evolves, and depending on where we place our energy, that evolution can be positive and ground breaking or negative and bury us. Being aware of thoughts and emotions surrounding significant or minor events in our lives is a gift. We can choose to fight against the current, or let it flow around us, gently carving the sharp edges away from our souls. What unfolds is the sculpture that we were always meant to become.

Reshaped by a Pandemic

Nearly a year ago, our country was turned upside down by a worldwide pandemic. Today, lives continue to be lost, businesses continue to go under, relationships are strained or have dissolved all together, and the division between the citizens of the US has widened exponentially. Politics, whether you’ve been willing to admit it to yourself or not, have greatly been at play. Protests, marches, violence and tensions have increased. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our country.

With a new president and the roll out of vaccines…suddenly economies are opening up again. Regardless of the fact that case numbers have not gone down. Children are still not allowed to attend in-person school in many areas. Virtual learning continues to take its toll on students, teachers, and families from all walks of life. Small businesses that haven’t already disappeared fight to stay afloat. Still, many patients sit in hospitals or nursing homes alone, their families not permitted to visit them. Additionally, celebrations of life or grieving someone’s death are put on hold, indefinitely. Meanwhile, the mega rich (including those in high political standing), continue to comfortably accommodate themselves and their agendas.

We are holding on to what we can. After all, it feels like we’ve let go of enough.

Hanging By a Thread

Hence, the emotional wellbeing of our people suffers. We’ve been worn down to fibers, holding on by a thread. The confusion can be all consuming. In a way, COVID-19 threw the mirror in front of our faces and the glare was blinding. We have been forced to recognize how little control we have over so much and we’ve been left with surmounting questions and blank spaces. The days run together and moving to the next place of our lives seems like a far off concept. Not projecting how we feel on what is happening is next to impossible. We are holding on to what we can. After all, it feels like we’ve let go of enough.

Hope for What’s Next

Romans 8:28 assures us that “God works ALL* things for the greater good for those who love Him, according to His purpose”. This verse has always been important to me. All too frequently in life, we have experiences that blindside us, hurt us, confuse us, and leave us wondering “what the hell was the point of that?” So, being reminded all things are worked for the greater good restores my faith and gives me hope for what’s next. Living through a pandemic has bound us all together nearly as much as it has torn us apart. This is our opportunity to examine where we are placing our energy. Here, we have another chance to fight against the current or let it flow around us.

While there will perpetually be a myriad of things that are out of our control, within a pandemic or not, there’s many ways we can still drive the boat. Last week I scribbled on a piece of paper five things I need to be healthy.

  1. Get outside, every single day.
  2. Time alone in my own house for chores, journaling, reading, phone calls…whatever.
  3. Time connecting to the outside world: friends, family, or just fellow neighbors and citizens doing life in my community.
  4. Intentional time to “cut loose” and have fun. Read: Get over myself.
  5. An outlet. Working out, writing, doing something creative, watching great documentaries, you name it.

We can call, text, facetime, zoom, and write letters to connect with loved ones. Drop a pin on a map and get outside, go explore. We can play games, read, listen to podcasts, and also scream into a pillow. Because: life. But we can still choose to keep moving forward, with what we can control and what we find joy in.

Finding Balance

Esther 4:14 offers “perhaps you were born for such a time as this.” In the past, I compartmentalized that verse to apply only to monumental snapshots of our walks of life— applicable to huge transitions or massive accomplishments. But what if each moment, just exactly where you find yourself within it, is the time for which you were born? Jack Kornfield states “to let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.”

The delicate balance of letting circumstances be, with compassion, and recognizing our innate purpose within each moment, can blow the top off our perceived prisons and redefine what it means to be human. Each moment, be it painful, puzzling, prosperous, or powerful, is your time. Life wasn’t ever designed to be controlled, after all. It was designed to be lived. So Let it be.

Let It Be

by The Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken-hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be

For though they may be parted
There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Yeah, there will be an answer, let it be

*–emphasis is mine

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1 Comment

  1. Chrystal

    I love this, and the photo!❤️

    Reply

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