“Let go or be dragged.” Zen Proverb
In my last blog post, “Arguing and Bargaining with God … again,” I wrote about fighting with God about our son’s diagnosis and surgery versus doing what God asked, which was to let go.
A friend commented on my post, “I think I struggle most with the practical. I don’t know what ‘letting go’ looks like whereas I know what doing something, bargaining, worrying, etc. look like.”
I wondered if the reason I wrangled with letting go was the same as hers – I don’t know what letting go looks like. Busyness, bargaining, and worry had taken on lives of their own, but not letting go … even though I was genuine about wanting to do it.
Busying myself looked like starting laundry at noon, finishing at 4, and having little recollection of what I had done for four hours. I did, however, recollect a lot of pacing and very little writing because I wouldn’t sit still.
Bargaining looked like eating Reese’s Cups while telling myself, “No more chocolate.” I figured until God stepped up and gave me what I wanted, I’d binge on sugar instead of doing what he asked.
Worrying looked like scrolling Facebook for three hours to distract myself and, just to worry myself more, clicking on sites that updated unsettling news.
After this list, I have to admit I wanted “letting go” to look like a magic wand. In reality, though, it didn’t look like anything. I hadn’t practiced it enough to be able to picture it, not for stuff as emotional as this anyway.
As timing would have it, I had a month between our son’s diagnosis and his surgery, which meant I had to figure out how to handle 30 days of my life while not knowing how his life was going to turn out. Even though there’s always uncertainty, things like health scares heighten our senses.
When my friend mentioned not knowing what letting go looked like, I knew I needed to find out and practice it. Here are the intentional actions I came up with that to me looked like letting go …
- I sat still. I wrote, read books, and talked to God.
- I exercised and cleaned, in place of obsessing and talking non-stop, to release nervous energy that in turn helped release a little bit of the thing I wanted to let go. My husband knows I “rage clean” and to stay out of the way while I’m vacuuming like my life depends on it. Sometimes it does.
- I asked myself, “If I take fear out of the equation, what would I do?” I journaled about what I’d let go of if I subtracted fear and what I’d put in its place if I wasn’t so afraid.
- I lived my life. I looked around to see if there were things I put off because I was focusing on someone else. I tend to justify, “Of course I can’t focus on my own life. Who wouldn’t be distracted during a time like this?” Living my life – writing a blog post, taking a daytrip, and signing up for a watercolor class – is the solution.
- I intentionally put space between the thing I was trying to let go of and me. I pictured our son’s surgery and its outcome with God. I stopped talking about it. Stopped trying to figure it out. Stopped making phone calls and lists about it. Stopped researching it. Instead of acting frantic, I took walks and baths.
My description of letting go sounds near perfect, doesn’t it? Be glad you weren’t here for the fall out. There were tears and ugly words and phone calls anyway and too much talking even though I said I stopped. I tore out the page from my journal and shredded it. I jumped up every five minutes even though I called it sitting still.
Although I have a ways to go, I’m happy to have a “face” for letting go. Writing down what I practiced helps put action to the adage. I hope it helps you too.
In This Together,
P.S. To everyone praying for our son and the rest of our family, there aren’t enough grateful words to express how we feel right now. He’s come through surgery and he and his wife are staying overnight at the hospital. We’re headed to their home tomorrow. Thank you! xoxox