Is change hard for you? It is for me. Sometimes it's challenging for me to let go of things. Whether it is my plans, life situations, locations, or even items that remind me of happy times. I can tend to assign a memory or emotion to material things in an attempt to hold on to those memories.
After our daughter Nicole died in an accident, I clung to everything with even the slightest trace of her. With her missing from our physical world, I had the tendency to make a shrine out of anything that was a physical representation of her existence with us. I held on to every material item that she had owned or even anything that had her name on it. My grief created an urge in me to cling to anything tangible to try and keep her close. I was trying to fill a void that was impossible to fill. In Victorious Heart, I include a chapter on the difficulties of letting go of unhealthy attachments. It says:
"Our world is in a constant state of decomposition and regeneration. The circle of life in this fallen world is that eventually, every physical thing here will degrade to leave space for the new. I knew that was a natural part of life, but I just didn't want to let go of one more thing after Nicole went to Heaven. I felt like I could not handle one more change in my life. I wanted to hold onto things just as they were, to preserve what little I had left of her."
There is nothing wrong with holding on to items that remind us of our loved ones or memories of happy times. That is a natural and beautiful way to honor precious times in our lives. We can find gratitude and comfort in those items. However, when that grasping becomes excessive or causes us not to live freely, it becomes stunting and no longer honors the memories of happy times.
Over time I am trying to learn when it's time to open my hands and let go. Sometimes that has been forced because of the natural process of time. That can complicate an already painful process, no longer bringing happiness, but a burden of sadness.
When we began to talk about making the move from California to Tennessee, my heart was torn. Our California house had been home, and our roots were deep. We had raised our family in that house. Every inch of the property had our fingerprints on it. The spring after Nicole had passed away, I spent hours on end in the garden, working out the pain in my heart until my muscles ached. The youth group from our church planted a beautiful Purple-Robed Locust tree back by the barn in memory of Nicole. The kid's handprints were even imprinted on the concrete floor of their bathroom.
So much of my heart was there. Nicole's earthly body was buried in the cemetery there in town, along with both my parents. I wanted to go, but it was hard to imagine ever leaving.
We did end up moving, and one consolation at the time was that we would keep the CA house, and our son Alex would live there. But houses need maintenance and eventually degrade like everything on this earth. It became evident that would couldn't handle the upkeep of two homes almost 2000 miles apart, so last year we made the painful decision to sell it.
The process was arduous, both physically and emotionally. Our Real Estate agent assured us that we didn't need to restore every inch of the place, but we felt like we needed to honor the memories of the house and leave it ready for it's new owners to love.
Every day we were there working, we were faced with one difficult decision after another. We still had Nicole's purple truck in the garden. I had planted flowers in the bed of the truck, and at the time, it brought me comfort. But it longer brought me comfort, only sadness as we had to decide what to do with it. We decided to donate it to help kids in need. My heart broke as the tow truck unceremoniously hauled it away. After it was gone, I found solace imagining a child being blessed because of it.
Despite all my practice in letting go, releasing the home that we raised our family in was excruciating. As the closing day approached, I wept deeply as I said goodbye to the home that housed so many cherished memories.
The thing about holding on so tightly to some things is that your hands are so full, you can't embrace the new thing God has in store. We become stalled in limbo because we are afraid of the change and don't want to let go of the past. It's hard.
Letting go doesn't mean you lose the memories; the memories will always be a part of you. Letting go just means you are free to move forward into the life God has purposed for you.
What are you holding on to that is weighing you down? Is it an old mindset or habit? Could it be that you are just drowning in "stuff" and are paralyzed with the thought of making another decision? Maybe you are like I was and just can't handle one more change in your life. I get it. It's exhausting. I encourage you to start small and just do a little at a time. I promise it will get easier, and soon your heart will feel lighter. You can do this.