Don’t Knock It Until You’ve Tried Letting Go

Lately, after work when the weather is right, we spend time in the backyard avoiding stinging caterpillars, refereeing the fighting between my two children and watching my youngest try his hand at the monkey bars. He’s watched his big sister swing from bar to bar since he can remember remembering anything. He’s now tall enough to reach the first bar from the ladder and strong enough to hang there, his grip tight enough to bear all of his weight. And then he falls, never going any further. He loosens his grip on the first bar only to fall and go back to the beginning because it’s too scary to open his hands to reach forward. We cheer him on because we all know he can do it, yet he makes the decision to drop every time.

When we’re not outside, I’m inside thinking about de-cluttering. I think about it a lot. I’m so ready to be free … but I haven’t completely jumped on the bandwagon yet. I like to let go of things – when I’m good and ready. I like the space more than I like the things, but that just usually results in some *interesting* storage solutions while I try to have my cake and eat it too.

Can you relate?

We’ve been moving our things from one space to another. It’s an ongoing, overdue project. With this, we’ve been given the opportunity to evaluate every piece – to take a real, hard look and decide where it belongs in our lives, if at all. Yesterday afternoon, a pair of vintage shoes was in the crosshairs. They were my mother’s. They’re really cool, but I’m not going to wear them again. Keep them? Or let them go? How will it feel if I make room … to enjoy the space or for something new?   

When I was younger, I heard an interesting discussion about giving that stuck with me. Here’s the gist: giving with an open hand makes it easier to receive. If you clench your fist around your treasure, it can be kept safe. But that fist will only be able to hold so much until there is no room for anything else. There’s no room for what you’re clinging to to grow or change. An open hand is vulnerable, but it can hold so much more … to give or receive. An open hand has let go and is open to/for change. 

All of this was swimming around in my head when I listened to a sermon this Sunday. The message was delivered with humor and honesty and there’s no way I’ll do it justice here, but what I came away with was this: freedom is letting go. Take in a breath and let it go. Release the grudge that you hold tight. Forgive with an open heart. Relax those tensing muscles and let go of the clench.

It’s like the universe is trying to hit me over the head with something. I hate and love it at the same time. I don’t like being told what to do, but at the same time I feel like a little bit of a genius when I can put two and two together like this. Letting go is a decision you have to make again and again. You have to get that groove really deep before it’s easy, if ever.

Let go of the night that deteriorated into time-outs, screaming and crying, when everyone went to bed angry and you felt like a terrible mother. Make room for the new day.

Let go of the grief of loss to make room for the celebration of life.

Let go of the score you’re keeping and make room for teamwork.

Let go of the things surrounding you, the ones that keep you from breathing and moving untethered through this life. 

Let go of being lonely shaping who you are and make room for new friends.

Keep deciding to choose an open hand (and I will, too). Only when we let go can we be free. 

Kristen is still in the middle of her love story. She and her best friend of four years gave in and finally decided to date. Two years later, she was engaged. Two years after that, she was married. She’ll celebrate her 17th wedding anniversary this May. Mom to Ellen (8) and James (5), she works full time in Human Resources outside of the home. Her children have taught her that motherhood is hard. And wonderful. And HARD. A proud alum of LSU and Johnson and Wales University, she also collects college degrees. (BS in Psychology, AS in Culinary Arts and BS in Culinary Nutrition). She’s lived in Baton Rouge a majority of her life, with sojourns in New Orleans, Charleston, SC and Providence, RI. The south is clearly home. Recovering from a nearly crippling case of adolescent insecurity, she is still the most likely to have the heel of her shoe caught in the hem of her pants.


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