Rachel Jenae

The Lost Art of Letting Go

I recently received four journals for my birthday, from four completely different friends. I can’t remember the last time someone gave me a journal, but by the fourth gift I was chuckling and quietly whispered, “Ok God, I get it…it’s time to do more writing.”

Following that whisper my heart was excited – in awe of the way He knows me so well and directs each season of my life – but following that, looking at four empty journals, I was quickly overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at what it would take to fill them. The time, energy, and hand stamina. I’m overwhelmed with all the things that I already don’t have time for, how was I going to make more time for this? (I’ll spare you a photo of the large stack of books in the corner of my room from my on-going audacious reading goals.)

But seriously, how? And as I silently started to try and figure it out I heard a whisper back. “You might have to change a few things and let go of a few other things.” “Change what?” I whispered back. I sat for a long moment thinking through everything currently on my plate and the idea of having to let any of it go. I felt a cringe in my heart. “Right when things started feeling good,” I thought to myself.

Several minutes later I realized God was still silent. Was my cringe that obvious?

“Ok, I whispered. What needs to come off my plate.” Only half of me really wanting to hear an answer – hoping somehow He planned to give me a million dollars so I could quit my day job.

Nothing,” He replied.  “You don’t have to change a thing. But just remember, what you see as letting go, I see as embracing. Those journals can stay empty forever, but I wanted to give you something through those gifts.

How often has this been the case – God gives a gift, encouraging me in a direction, giving me the tools and resources to do that thing He’s put in my heart, but my active participation in doing my part will take change and sacrifice, and with that I cringe. I hold tightly to the good I know, as if the future unknown that God is leading me into wouldn’t be good too. So instead of embracing the change, the “saying no”, the staying in, the work of it all, I wait another year and journals stay empty, or maybe worse, they get filled with shallow, petty writings instead. I come to varying conclusions on why I can’t let go of different things on my plate, knowing full well that His gifts far outweigh anything I could conjure up or hold onto.

I can’t help but think about the Israelites in the wilderness. In Exodus 16 God provides for the children of Israel with manna that appears on the ground each morning as their food. The Israelites were to go out and gather the manna each day, but only enough for that day. If they kept it longer than a day, it would rot. It was a sign and an exercise in trusting God for provision each day and not holding onto and hoarding what He gave.

I feel an “ugh” in my spirit just reading it again. Isn’t that me? Isn’t that what I’m doing with the gifts He’s given in each season. Wanting to hold on and hoard them from one season to the next, afraid He won’t provide for tomorrow as He always has. What is that about? Where did that fear come from? But what if the principle of the manna applied to this area of my life? What if my holding and hoarding only produced rot and decay? Would I more easily loosen my hold? My childlike behavior is much more clear with that picture in my mind – friendships, dreams, homes…rotting in my hand, turning to mush as I refuse to let go.

The Lord was trying to give the Israelites a gift, the gift of knowing Him and His character. Day in and day out He would be faithful. He would provide for them. They didn’t have to take care of themselves. They simply had to partner with Him, let go of the old and go out and embrace the new. I may not know what the “new” looks like, but I do know His character – day in and day out – and He has always been faithful and He has always provided more than enough for each new season that He calls me into.

It’s really a simple reminder today – that letting go from His perspective looks much different than it does from mine. It looks much more like embracing, like receiving a gift from His heart, and like Ephesians 3:20 – “more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” (MSG Version). Letting go from His perspective actually looks beautiful and attractive and like an opportunity – something I get to do instead of have to. In a culture that consumes and can’t ever have enough, we have lost art of letting go. How beautiful it can be – how wonderful and sweet and freeing. It’s a work of art I’m sure I’ll be trying to perfect my entire life, but my hope is that with each season it will get easier, for He is the best gift-giver I know and I want my hands open to receive whatever it is He’s giving.