Sunday, August 06, 2017
Sunday Afternoon Tea - Letting go of more than just stuff
I should have made the changes in my family room months ago. I've had an unsettled feeling about a certain corner at least that long so when I switched out a shelf that held cute little things on it for one large framed needlework, it looked so much better. Then I made some changes to the Butler's rack by that corner and I quite like the results. (This photo was taken before the changes to the Butler's rack.)
The unexpected peace that came from removing clutter... albeit pretty clutter... got me to thinking about the advice I've given myself and my kids over the years... let it go! The concept of letting go of thoughts that clutter our mind with bad stuff is a lesson learned long ago and usually the hard way.
What is emotional and spiritual clutter? Those things that cause a discontent when we dwell on them? What must we let go of to have peace? I'll talk about a few below.
Letting go of what we thought our lives would look like.
This was probably my hardest struggle. It took years to completely let it go and even then there are days I have to give that one back to God all over again. I think this one is particular difficult for those of us brought up in a culture that taught us that we could do anything and be anything we wanted to be. I know now that is a lie that comes back to bite most of us.
For one thing, it is not Biblical. Like so many of these lies, we accept what culture is teaching instead of God's Word. God made us a certain way with specific gifts that He created in us for the journey He created us for... not just anything we decide out of the blue we want to become.
Now, He does place within us desires to use those gifts that He provides. When we ask for wisdom, He opens and closes doors and brings the people along our path we need... all throughout our lives to keep us on that journey. It is often during those times of closing doors that we stomp our feet and cry out to Him that life is So. Not. Fair.!!!
However, when we let go of what we thought our life would look like at the age we are right now... if we accept that God has us on a journey that ends in good things... then we can have some peace and be able to look for the good that is on this God given journey. For there is a whole lot of good that comes out of following His path instead of our intended goal.
Letting go of bitterness and unforgiveness.
This is a hard one for a lot of us. It tends to be the fruit of when we do not let go of the life we expected. Sometimes our hopes and dreams do come true, usually after we work hard to reach them. However, for some of us we need to refocus on something other than our original dream and find what it is that He wants us to do.
We cannot refocus, much less find peace, if we are still holding on to the clutter of bittnerness that life is not what we expected. Whether it is a goal not reached, a broken marriage, a wayward child, an illness, less than good experiences in the church or workplace, someone else getting the promotion, or all kinds of ways life can seem to come to a bend in the road we did not expect... if we allow that root of discontent to become full fledged bitterness then the enemy of our souls will win.
This is especially true when we do not let go of unforgiveness. I've had people spread lies about me before, some of them I wonder where they came up with these imaginations. Sometimes it was the way they interpreted a situation or something I said but I'm sure most of the time it was something whispered to them by the enemy of our souls until they believed lies instead of truth.
Sometimes I've needed to forgive because of what someone did rather than said or how someone took a grain of truth and turned it into something entirely different than what the truth actually was. I ask God how He can let such a thing happen and when I hold on to the anger and refuse to "let it go", then that person has a continual affect on me far beyond the original dishonesty.
For instance, if it has been a long time since I've even seen or talked to that person and I'm still playing a video through my mind of what they said or did, whether just once or on a continual basis, then that person still has control of my emotions. I've learned when they come to mind, to change my thoughts to something else such as listening to great music. One has to decide to think about something else instead of the person who has wronged us.
Letting go of regrets.
What if there is no other person but it is us that has somewhere along the way made the wrong decision, taken the wrong path, or hurt someone we love? What if we felt God wanted us to go in one direction and like Jonah we took off the opposite way and the results were not what we hoped for?
What if we find ourselves at a point in life when we have a lot of regrets? Well, we must let them go, too. Breath in. Breath out. Now say out loud (or under our breath should someone be close by and think us quite mad to be talking to ourselves)... I forgive myself.
For one thing, always remember we are looking at the past with 20/20 vision that we may not have had when we made the original decisions. Also, we must give our younger selves grace for we did not have the wisdom we have today. So often we made what we know now was the wrong decision when it seemed right at the time.
We have to let it go, just as if it was someone else who brought us to this point in life. If we don't, then regrets will kill our spirit and do further damage to any future God has for us.
God can only redeem our journey if we let go of the past!
How do we let go?
Well, all I can talk about with any kind of authority is what has worked for me. I mentioned that when thoughts of the words someone has said or pictures in my mind of actions they have done come to haunt my thoughts... I have to purposely think on something that is good and beautiful and peaceful and God inspiring.
Usually I listen to praise music or hymns or even secular music that brings beauty to my mind. If I have time, I sometimes read from a book or a devotional that I love. If I am really feeling down, then I pop a favorite movie in the DVD player that I know will take my mind off what is eating at it.
Of course, reading the Word is essential and sometimes if things are really bad, all I can do is read the Psalms. Although I have to say that I am positive that is why God has them there. They were the songs that brought His people the Jews through very difficult times and continue to bless us today.
Sometimes when I'm in a season of distress, I find having a Bible study book to go through helps immensely. Whether a book written by Elizabeth George that teaches how to be a woman of God or one of those "fill in the blanks" study books of a particular book of the Bible... each has a place to help me draw closer to God and replace emotional clutter with His Word.
What if you are still living it everyday?
I thoroughly get this since my husband is manic-depressive (so much better a description than bipolar). He can be rather... explosive... unexpectedly. There are a few things I've learned in this very long marriage.
First, realize by allowing this in my life then God has a way of helping me put up with it. Sometimes it helps to just leave the situation until he calms down by going out for coffee if possible or at least going to the Study and listening to music. He does calm down eventually.
Second, and this works for anyone dealing with a difficult person... you ask God to let His love for that person flow through you. It always amazes me that He answers that prayer over and over again. Whether it is to replace my anger against my husband or against someone I hardly know who has done me wrong. He really will fill your heart with His love for another but only if you have... what? Let it go.
Let the emotions that are eating you up on the inside GO. For as long as you hold on to them then healing cannot begin. You must heal spiritually and emotionally so that God can redeem your journey and continue from where you are right now. Can He do that? Most definitely. My life is nothing what I had planned and quite honestly, not what I had wanted. However, He has redeemed it into something pretty good.
You have to make the decision what is more important. To hold bad feelings towards other people or yourself because these feelings are so much a part of you that letting go is hard... or making that decision that you do not want to clutter your life with them, anymore. It is amazing how one feels when they are free from bitterness or unforgiveness or regrets or any other negative emotions we choose to hold onto.
Remember, peace is a Person and to really walk in that peace and that light and that calm then He has to be allowed to take the place of all the junk in your soul and in your mind. Then He will redeem not only your journey but every part of you. That is worth letting it go.