I’ve been thinking a lot about what letting go looks like. Letting go of many things, hurt, pain, anger, unrealistic expectations of others, dreams that were not meant to be. Whatever your thoughts go to that is worth holding onto. I have always aspired to be a “letter go-er”, and with the little things, I have succeeded. But the big things, I carry around buried in anger and hurt. Sometimes they surface unexpectedly. Sometimes I dig them up to look at them and remember how angry I am.
A Fight to the Death
Sometimes we forget that we are where we are supposed to be. While back in the program in Indiana, Jeni went on a home visit to Ohio. She didn’t want to come back and decided she just wouldn’t. She thought she had successfully convinced her parents that she didn’t need to go back at all. But they weren’t buying it and called the program and told them that Jeni needed to come back, and they couldn’t get her to go.
So I was asked to go with them almost 6 hours away in the middle of the night to bring Jeni back. I remember the feeling of her mom letting us in the house, walking down to Jeni’s room and John flipping on the light. There were two staff members from the program, and me there, just to watch and attest to what happened. When he turned on the lights he said “Jeni, it’s time to go back now.” She shot out of bed so fast and bolted to the door. He caught her in mid-flight. She bit him on the arm and got part way up the stairs.
They got her out to the car. She cried for at least an hour. Then she calmed down. We got breakfast at a McDonald’s drive-through. After we got back to the campus, I slept on the couch at Herrick house most of the day. I still remember that because of how determined she was to not go back. She was not letting go of her plan to stay home, even when it was painfully clear the dream was over and that wasn’t what was best for her.
Jeni was a sweet, kind, funny person who had never acted like that before. We get in our comfort zone and look up to see the lights have been flipped on and reality is here for us. We can fight it, we can bite it, but it doesn’t change the outcome. It’s time to let go of things that hurt us in the end.
Anxious For Nothing
I was listening to the Craig Groeschel’s Life Church Sermon “Anxious for Nothing” this last week and he told the story of Elijah. What struck me was the Elijah was DONE with it all. He sat down and said, “I have had enough.” It’s ridiculous how much I feel like that. I am there with you Elijah. Sometimes I am so angry and overwhelmed and heavy with the weight of the fear of the past, present, and future. It is a brick on my anxious chest close to every day it seems.
Listen For The Quiet Whisper
God was not in the earthquake. God was not in the wind. And God was not in the fire. He was in the gentle whisper. Craig has said in several different instances that this is because God is so close to us that he can whisper (Watch minutes 23-26 in the video). He whispers in our ear to let us know how close he is when we need him. He reminds us in a whisper that we can let go. But we have to be quiet enough to hear it and let Him get close enough to say it.
Fear of Getting Close
Nothing that happened in my life that caused me to be angry and disappointed with people was God’s fault, and it wasn’t mine either (until I started acting out in response to it). I kept wondering why he wasn’t comforting me or doing something in my life to “fix” me. At the same time, I was pushing Him away with every bit of energy I had. I would go back and forth between blaming Him and begging Him for help.
What Letting Go Looks Like – Getting Close
When we hold onto anger and bitterness, getting caught in the same thoughts and allowing them to overtake our emotions, we keep God at arm’s length. He can’t come close enough to whisper in our ear, hug us, or help us carry some of the weight. Anger is a great crutch. It can be used for self-defense, to protect and self-preserve, all without realizing the negative impacts it has on closest relationships.
If you are sitting around blaming God for not helping you out when you are struggling with anger, disappointment, and anxiety, do a little self-assessment. See if the one who is preventing God from showing up in your life is you.
Read the full story below from Bible Gateway 1 Kings 19:3-12
1 Kings 19:3-12 New International Version (NIV)
3 Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and thereby his head was some bread baked over hot coals and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The Lord Appears to Elijah
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
In that whisper, the Lord spoke to Elijah, comforted him, and gave him what he needed, a new direction.
Facing Our Greatest Fears – And Letting Them Go
It is really hard to let go of my greatest fears, or dreams that aren’t meant to be or hurts from the past. It is hard for me to let go of the fact that people let me down or didn’t care about hurting me. Or that things don’t turn out how I thought they would. The disappointment of looking forward to something that I build up in my mind to be amazing, that falls apart and isn’t in the end. It’s ok.
Elijah’s greatest fear was to die. The end of this story is that Elijah never died. God came down and swept him up in a chariot.
He was anxious for nothing.
11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.2 Kings 2:11
Reaching Up When Anxiety and Fear Strikes
Philippians 4:6 New International Version (NIV)
Craig talks about anxiety and feeling a heavy weight in our hearts and minds is a signal to pray. When you feel like a situation is too much, or you – like Elijah, God’s own prophet, have just had enough of life’s crap, pray about it.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Bible Gateway Philippians 4:6
God reminds me when I let go of control and anger of things I’ve forgotten: He’s got this, and clearly – I don’t. He sees me, “You are a God who sees me. Gen.6:13″ All I need to do is be still and let Him come in close, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Ex. 14:14” That means not trying to push Him away from the anger and hurt. Not hiding what a nasty, angry, mean, mess I really am. Because, newsflash, Nena: He’s Aware. So bare it all and be accountable to it. Own your part and offer up the rest.