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#10: Letting Go

Updated: Jul 18, 2019

Something about being human makes us want control. We don’t always need it or want it, but we’ve each experienced a time when we desired it.

We want to feel like we got a handle on things. It feels good to feel capable of handling them.

Maybe there’s a comfort in feeling like things lie in the palms of our hands. To know that we are the ones responsible for whatever happens. It can feel nice—things going our way and the way we planned them to. There’s predictability in control and there’s a security in both.

The more we plan, the more we can predict the outcomes and the consequences and our potential reactions to them.

We can prepare.

Being prepared makes us feel safe and ready. But you know what’s funny about that?

Some of the greatest things that life has ever given me have always come at a time when I felt the least ready. No preparations, no safety net, no control. Just total free dive into the unknown.

I met the love of my life during a time when I was convinced I was going to live as a lone nomad. Ironically, he too, had sworn off relationships. And then, BAM! Soul mate, right in my face.

Charlie, my little toddler, made me a mother almost two years ago. Before her, if you asked me about kids, I would have said, “Ask me again in ten years.” I had big plans to move to New York City, study photography, and then go overseas to become a nameless war photographer.

When I found out I was pregnant, I realized those dreams had to wait. As I was growing as a mother, I realized something else. Those dreams—they weren’t what I really wanted. I realized that being a mom was what I wanted all along, and didn’t even know it. I realized I wanted a family to share this life with—to share all my travels with. I thought I was supposed to live life alone. Only later did I learn that I wasn’t supposed to be alone. I just hadn’t met the right person that I was supposed to share it all with.

After meeting Conrad and having two of his children, I’ve come to know a happiness that I didn’t think was ever possible. Some of life’s greatest gifts, love and children, were given to me when I had zero control—when all my tidy, organized plans were thrown out to sea. And it’s been the best, most rewarding adventure I could have ever imagined. I want nothing more, nothing else, but to be here, now, with them.

But how do we know that things will always work out for the better? Life doesn’t always knock on the door carrying presents. Or maybe you’re waiting for it to knock and it never even shows up.

I’m not here to promise that it will all work out. I’d like to. But the Dealer does a great job shuffling the deck. I’m just here saying that there is something to be had in every moment that life presents us with.

When life feels too busy, be happy it’s not filled with nothing.

When it gives you a red light, enjoy the chill.

When it’s filled with loss, find the things that remain.

“I’m choosing happiness over suffering. I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.” – Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love

Sure, life doesn’t always work the way we dreamt it to. It’s easy to dream up a life that we want to live. When we will graduate, where we will work, when we will meet our soul mate, when kids will be had, and what we’ll do when we retire. It’s pleasant to dream.

However, I’ve found out that dreams become dangerous when I’ve allowed them to transpire into expectations.

“Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.” ―Brandon Sanderson

We expect to fall in love this year, we expect to get hired next week, we expect to make a certain salary. When we fall short of these expectations, we tend to feel like life isn’t going the way it should. We may feel lost or saddened. We feel like we’ve lost control and that can be a scary thing.

But don’t feel like not having control is a reflection of you or your hard work. It’s just the way things go sometimes. It’s a part of being human. I know that’s not always reassuring. We want a better a reason than just, “That’s life.”

And, I think I’ve recently come across that better reason. It’s more than just life. It’s God. I guess you could say they are one and the same.

But when life doesn’t go the way I want it to, I remember that my plans really aren’t much more than a false sense of control. And honestly, they are insignificant. They aren’t the ones that matter. Because it’s His plan that we are supposed to carry out.

And rather than look to a feeling of control for comfort, I need to start looking to and trusting in Him.

I’m not pushing you to believe in Him. I’m just telling you how much better my life has been since He’s been in it—how much lighter I feel trusting that He will see me through whatever path He has put me on. To believe is to relieve, am I right?

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” - Psalm 46:1-3

If you’re not much of a believer, don’t think this doesn’t apply to you. Go on not believing. But also know that we were not made to be alone. If we were, then we would be. We need help in this life. And more than that we should enjoy being alive. In order to do that, we need to relinquish any stress and anxiety we may have and admit that we can’t go it alone—that things lie outside of our control.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” -Psalm 12:25-26

When I felt like life wasn’t going the way I’d hoped it to, I'd choose to release my grip on myself. I had to let go of my expectations, all the pressure I was putting on top of myself. Not my dreams, though. Dreams are important—we should never part with them.

But rather than expect, I’ve decided to replace it with action. To go breathe life into those dreams. If it doesn’t work out, or just never happens, life isn’t over. There’s just something else I was meant to do. And I can say I tried.

If you’re feeling a lack of control or you’re upset at life’s most recent curve ball, try just closing your eyes and releasing. Release your worries, your stress, your sadness, your depressions, your anger, all your negative feelings. If you believe in God, then give it all to him. If you don’t, then give it to the wind. If you’re asking me, they are once again really one and the same.

Now, I’m not saying to not prepare or to not fight for what you truly want. All I’m saying is, sometimes we build ourselves up a little too high on our expectations just for us to fall back down to solid ground. When we stand up with scraped knees, we mustn’t blame life—nor should we let it keep us down. We should stand. Stand on all the yesterdays that went unplanned, but made us who we are—that brought us to today.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung

I look back at all that I’ve gone through. And yes, while it was difficult to experience, I made it. And I made it out with a smile. I wouldn’t trade those days for any kind of perfect—because they made me who I am and brought me to here and now. Those yesterdays were more than a part of my past. They were a part of a grander plan. A much more eloquent, powerful, and magnificently beautiful plan.

But for shits and gig’s, let’s say for a second that life gave me control. That it gave me everything I dreamed of, hoped for, and planned on.

First of all how boring? And while it would be a blast to play out that little scenario, I’ve come to realize that being faced with the unexpected has revealed the most of me to myself. How would I know how strong I am if I didn’t push myself to carry a heavier weight? How would I know what I’m capable of, if everything went my way, exactly as planned? I mean, ninjas aren’t awesome because of how much they practice being freakin’ sweet as all heck. Ninjas are awesome because of how they react to a blindsided attack (can you even blindside a ninja?).

Whatever it is you’re going through or not going through—maybe you’re still waiting for a certain something to come along—know that you are not alone. Whatever season you are in, remember you’re in a season. The season will soon come to an end and give rise to a new day. But you’re in this season for a reason.

“I think that the power is the principle. The principle of moving forward, as though you have the confidence to move forward, eventually gives you confidence when you look back and see what you’ve done.” -Robert Downey Jr.

I believe seasons last a certain while, long enough to bring us a knowledge of sorts. Whether it be of ourselves, the world or Truth. Hopefully, they are all one.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away…” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-6

My most colorless winters have made way for the most fruitful of Spring—despite how unprepared I was for them. They were the plainest of wardrobes on the outside. But on the inside—they were doorways into the most marvelous of worlds.

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” – Willa Cather

So rather than complain, brood, or wallow, I’ve been practicing at seeing a wrench in the gears as an opportunity to stop something I once thought was immovable. In other words, Carpe freakin’ diem. Seize whatever it brings, even if it’s a whole lotta nothin’. Sieze the bad times and the good; the lessons learned and mistakes made; the preconceived, the plans unraveled. Embrace change. Embrace it all.

“Change is one thing. Acceptance is another.” – Arundhati Roy

Yes, life will be tough for most of us. It can knock us around and maybe even get us close to a K.O. But I do FIRMLY believe that every thing, big and small, has a reason for happening. I have to believe that. So I stand up. I let go of my “control,” of my burdens, and anything that feels like a failing. I let go so I can climb a cool tree, enjoy the view, and swing from life’s branches.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” -Tao Te Ching

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” – J. K. Rowling

Rather than let our heads fall, it’s time to see the new perspectives and opportunities life’s given us, and give it our best damn shot with what we’ve got—because blessings have a funny way of wearing some convincing disguises.

“Defy me not for gleam can only shine in my existence" said Darkness.” ― Nofal

So, dream it up and live it good. (I promise I have a degree in English). Just, whatever life brings, remember that—as cliche as it is—“This too shall pass.” Remember to look past the ugly facade to find the sparkling gems within. Remember to take it easy on yourself, that you are alive in an amazing world, and that you can do anything.

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” – Paulo Coelho

Embrace all of what the day brings.

And remember, sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle when you’re just out chasing firing flies.

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