Letting Go

As I sat in prayer today, two words arose again and again – a command, in fact, direct from the Divine.

“Let go!”

So my initial reaction was to hold on even more tightly.

Does this ever happen to you? Sometimes it is in my spiritual life, but often it’s just in everyday living – if someone – even God – tells me to do one thing, my instinct is to do the exact opposite.  I hope there’s a psychologist or even a theologian out there studying why this seems to be such a common phenomenon.  I know I’m not alone here clinging to whatever my infant hand can grasp.

The irony was that I felt like I needed to embrace the command, “Let go!” in order to be able to release my grasp.  How do we hold on to let go?

I imagine myself now not as an infant, grasping tightly to whatever is pressed into my palm, but as a child on the monkey bars. In order to let go of the bar behind me, I have to grab on to the bar in front of me.  Otherwise I fall.

Now that’s an image that works for me. I love the idea of confidently swinging from one great spiritual milestone to another, holding on only long enough to reach out for whatever is next on the journey. But if I’m honest about my prayer, that wasn’t really what the command to let go was all about either.

If I stick with my monkey bars metaphor, then the command seemed to be less about reaching for the next handhold and more about being willing to fall.

So I let go.

And believe it or not, I did not fall to my death or my doom. I never even had the sense of a terrible and frightening free fall.  I never felt the impact of hitting bottom or even the spring of a soft catch. I just felt open to whatever was coming next.  And suddenly I had something to write for this blog post; I have courage to move forward with the other post I’m working on that just isn’t coming out right.  There was space for more than what I had been holding on to so tightly.

This is a beginner spiritual exercise, but this moment reminds me of how important it is to return often to the beginning stages of our spiritual journey.  Grasp your hands tightly into fists.  Sometimes when I do this I also cross my arms in front of my chest to form an X – a barrier to entry to my heart.

Now let go.  Release your arms, release your fists. Pay attention to how much energy it took to hold those so tightly.  Now not only is there room for more space, room to receive what is given, and a direct path to your core, there is more energy for whatever gift is given. I find that as I am holding my fists, I am also holding my breath, holding myself back from the life giving Spirit that fills my lungs and my soul when I let go.

I have to do this release exercise pretty regularly to make room for the Divine to free me from the knots I’ve tied myself into. I am very aware that it is not easy to just “let go!” on command.  And yet, it is the very path to freedom and to help for the journey.

Do you ever hear or experience a command that you sense comes from a deeper place, the Divine or your spiritual core? Is your instinct to obey or to do the opposite? What is it that you may be holding on to that uses up you energy and keeps you closed off to gifts from outside?  If you can’t fully let go now, what might help you loosen you grip a bit? Do you have spiritual exercises that you have done since the “beginning” of your journey that you find it rewarding to return to?

Feeling stuck? Openings: Let the Spirit In can help you let go and open yourself to whatever the Spirit is calling you.  The first session, online or in person, is free. Contact us today for individual spiritual direction. And consider how a retreat on “Letting Go” might help your group or organization. We are available to come to you or bring you to our Savannah location.

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