If we don’t let go of the past, our hands will be too full to embrace the future.
I have been putting off writing about this blog because of the depth of what it represents. This has been stirring in my heart since August 2017. The season of “Letting Go” represents so many facets in my personal life; some positive, some painful, some necessary and some out of sheer obedience to what the Father has asked of me.
My experience has been that when God is taking us through a big life change, He prepares us in ways we don’t imagine. Only He knows what we need and we have to trust Him.
This past August, our oldest daughter Kelsi left the nest and headed to college – across the country. I was facing that time in life many of you may have already been through and survived but for me, it was real and it was hard. More so than I expected. In the weeks before we were leaving to drive from Florida to California, I found myself taking inventory of all the things I did right as a parent and then getting stuck on the things I wished I had done or failed to do.
I would start to feel panic and like a failure. I would find myself getting frustrated at her because I had not taught her something, or not been a good example with my own bad attitudes or choices. I regretted being so busy in ministry that I had lost many opportunities to just be Momma with her. I was so focused on the past that I lost my way in the present and couldn’t see the future.
I was full of ‘what ifs’, ‘I wish I could have’, and even bitterness and regret towards myself. I was going crazy trying to hold on to every moment and memory we could make as if we would never be able to make any memories with her again.
I was dreading this move for her on so many levels and then would be full of excitement for what God had in store for her. My mamas heart did not want to say goodbye – even though it wasn’t, it sure felt like it. I found myself thinking well this is the last time we will…, or the last time for this or that…, we won’t be able to do this again, etc…..I was caught up in all the “lasts” that I could barely enjoy the now.
Sometimes we are so stuck in what was that we can’t see what God is wanting to do now.
As a family we piled in her car and began the drive to California (from Florida) – we made many precious memories along the way, but I was wishing time would slow down. I didn’t want this to end. I could feel Holy Spirit wanting to help me let go – even though my desire was to hang on tight.
During the 10 day journey to California, we stopped as saw friends, family and had a bucket list of things to do but one of the stops was in Bakersfield, CA. where Jamie and I had a storage unit we had been paying on, for over 7 years. It wasn’t much, or at least that is what we remembered but it was significant belongings and stuff from when we were first married, items we had kept stateside when we moved to England over 20 years ago.
Now let me be totally transparent, these were items that prior to storage, were in my In-laws garage in Bakersfield, where nobody lived. It was a home we would come to visit at Christmas and during the summer so really, these items had been in storage for most of our married life. Important to me because of what they represented but not necessarily what they actually were.
Our plan was to stop for 1 night, we would go through the storage unit, clear out the few items and donate stuff and take a small number of things with us.
How we remembered the unit and what it actually was extremely different! When we opened the metal door – we sat there in disbelief as we stared at a wall of “stuff”, much more than we could have possibly remembered. To make it worse, the office manager told us they were closing in an hour, and if we wanted to check out of the unit that day, which was the plan – we would have to clear everything in that hour and leave the property.
Jamie and I both went into panic mode; Jamie’s reaction was let’s go dump everything at goodwill and mine was to hold on to every precious item that held a significant memory. It got worse – laced within all the junk stuff where significant items like pictures, journals, and family Christmas ornaments.
This was not a shining moment in our relationship. Jamie with no emotion, shoving stuff in the car while I standing there sobbing and upset. We literally drove to goodwill dumped our “precious belongings” and drove away. 4 car loads to be exact and as we pulled away the last time, my heart was ripped to shreds.
I know it’s just stuff, but for me, it was another “letting go” moment, one I wasn’t ready for and to be totally transparent I am still working on 2 months later. I keep thinking of things that were in the unit I never had an opportunity to pull out, a journal I wrote to Kelsi before she was born, music, pics, etc. Items that really are meaningless to anyone but us.
I am sure by now they are in the trash and no longer here but my mind just didn’t want to let go of the frustration of not having them. It does not make the memories any less important in my life, again it’s not like I had been accessing any of this stuff for the past 20 years but I finally had to let go of the things that represented my past. Good and bad.
God continued to speak to my heart about letting go and letting Him fill every void in our life. In a short window of time, I was faced with having to “let go” of so much. The redeeming part of this whole thing is that in the midst of it all – when we let go of what we are holding onto – we can open our hands and hearts and fill them with God’s love and all that He has in store.
Now, back the moment when we had to say goodbye to Kelsi, after all the above! As she drove away from the airport leaving us to fly home, my heart had no choice but to embrace all that had taken place.
Fear would try and creep in at times; how will I protect my precious gift, or be there when she needs me, if while we are 3000 miles away across the country? I felt so helpless and wanted with everything in my being to slow time down and not let go. This by far, is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But I know letting go was necessary in order to embrace the season where she would grow into the fullness of who God created her to be.
I have had some dark days since then. I have missed my daughter deeply, we are the best of friends and yet I have felt God’s presence come so strong and comfort me. My relationship with my daughter is closer and stronger than ever and I truly believe if I had not chosen to “let go and let God”, it would be different.
Throughout this process, I learned a new level of trust in my Heavenly Father. I know that when He entrust something or someone to our care it is ultimately His and He is a far greater protector and carer than we could ever be.
Can I encourage you; don’t hang on to what’s around you too tightly because when the Father says its times to loosen your grip and let go – He already has something greater in store. Letting go is necessary and He is always near with arms open wide.
SCRIPTURES TO STUDY
- Colossians 3:2
- 1 John 3
- Romans 8:38-39
- 1 Peter 5:7
- Ecclesiastes 3:6
- Psalm 94:19