Growing Into Letting Go

I’m always wishing to know others and be known by others.

Now I have an article to write and I don’t want to waste the opportunity.

But also, at the moment I feel empty.  I feel like my brain, my body and my heart have thought through, processed, held, and felt so much in the last two years that they’re kind of on sabbatical at the moment.  They’ve tapped out.

Every time I thought “well that was hard, glad that’s over so we can move on and get back to normal” in the last few years, it was just a few short days or weeks or months until something happened which completely threw “normal” way out of reach all over again.

I know, categorically, that the repercussions of COVID have seeped into all areas of life making normality actually impossible – but that hasn’t kept me from aiming at normal.  But so much has happened and changed that I’m really questioning just what I get to assume is in fact normal.  I’m starting to think that, as an adult and parent in 2022, “normal,” for the foreseeable future, actually means holding every thing and every plan very loosely because it’s likely everything will be constantly changing.

I’m also wondering, though, if this is anything new.  Pandemics, political and social unrest, and wild weather events are perhaps bigger elements at the moment, but in reality, maybe regardless of these external circumstances, being a human is just one long process of letting go.  

Inherent in growing up is change – when you’re young each year you get to add to your age feels monumental and exciting and like you’re heading towards this point in the distant future when you’ll be an adult, you’ll be grown, and from there the changes sort of stop, right?

But as my kids have gotten older and I’ve wrestled with different ages and phases I see more and more that all of life for every person is constantly changing.  Seasons of the year pass and so do seasons of life but being a “grown up” doesn’t suddenly mean that the passing of stages is easy and simple and finished.

Adult life has had a lot of shifting and growing for me.  And it feels like I’m constantly facing changes big and small.  The last few years especially have caused me to change and let go of things, community, people, many elements of my identity or my overall sense of self, and many ideas about how the world works.

And these changes and transitions take time and energy, which I’m struggling to accept.  Processing emotions literally takes physical energy.  Thinking about reality shifting around me uses up actual caloric energy.  My body holding tight and armouring itself takes a physical toll which takes physical therapy appointments and physical exercises to release.  But maybe this too is a more accurate idea of what being human involves.  Being an adult who is trying to be intentional, peaceful, and happy costs time and literal physical energy.  Perhaps part of the letting go is acknowledging that those resources are limited, and in difficult times especially, must be allocated carefully.

I’m not feeling fully peaceful in this idea.  I feel like the bottom has dropped out from under me and I’m failing at life if what I have to face in front of me is a long life of losing people and things and perpetually letting go.  But, if this idea is true that life is a long process of letting go, then there is a certain amount of peace in that these challenging things are not happening in my life because of my failure. I couldn’t “adult” well enough to keep from having to deal with loss.  So rather than trying to hold tighter and control for innumerable factors better maybe I should be working at loving easily and warmly and deeply so that when the losses happen, at least I know the love and life before was meaningful.

I’d love to hear if this feels true to you or if you see things differently – life is feeling like quite the puzzle right now but I’m always surprised how much hearing from other people matters.

About Abby Smith

Abby is a person. She works at being an emotionally intelligent person whose main focus currently is being a happy and loving mother to four kids and wife to Malcolm. Born and raised in a General church minister's family, she has been exposed to the Bible and the Writings since childhood but is enjoying reading and understanding these books as an adult more and more. The amazing knowledge about love and wisdom and all of the emotions that follow have truly made her a happier and more self-assured person. Her husband serves as the head pastor of New Church Westville near Durban, South Africa. While leaving family behind is a challenge, she quite enjoys living in Africa.

11 thoughts on “Growing Into Letting Go

  1. Thanks for these thoughts Abby. This really resonates with me. I have always had a very hard time accepting things or people that were once a very big part of my life have simply passed on. It can make me question why they ever happened or why I thought they mattered. And especially if I’m “loosing them” because I’m not enough.

    I found a lot of comfort in your processing and the idea that life IS all about letting go. And that that is not a sign of failure. That idea also terrifies me… but I think and hope I recognize the innate truth there.

    Something else that brings me comfort is when I think about the point of life being eternity in heaven and not this earth. All of these wrenching experiences are actually so fleeting, and anything that is truly a part of us stays with us for forever. I try to hold onto that thought and the idea that the Lord is eagerly trying to give us every good thing, and one day in heaven He really can.

    But there’s no easy fix. And I’m sure this is something I’ll wrestle with more as I progress in life. Wishing you peace and thanks for sharing!

    1. I like what you said about it all being fleeting, and I agree that it can be really useful to think about that sort of short term nature of many of these things!

  2. I love your juxtaposition of “letting go” vs “loving warmly and deeply”. I think that those two phrases encapsulate a life of balance. Being alive to the moment and living and loving fully in that moment means that the losses we have born are pushed to the edges of our consciousness while we engage completely in whatever moment it is that we are in right here and now with someone we love or some experience that is lighting us up beautifully. “God with us”. Thank you for putting into words something I am also experiencing.

    1. I really resonate with what you’re saying about being alive in the moment – can be such a useful tool.

  3. Remember too, Abby, that everything in your past contributes to who you are now. Those people and things you feel you’ve ‘lost’, those changes you continually experience, have all played their part in your present self. None of it has really gone forever – just gone into quiescence for a time while you focus on more present things, which will also contribute to your future self.

    1. It is so useful to remember this. I think I have a still childlike idea that the “self” is static, and it’s so helpful to think about the ways that in order to grow and regenerate we have to let go of an old self, BUT that we couldn’t have gotten to that new self without all the steps along the way.

  4. Abby – SO many of us are where you are with this, I believe. When the Big Stuff in life seems too big for us to do anything about, it feels like a relief to focus on just what you suggest.
    I have this posted on my refrigerator as a daily reminder to do just that:
    Live simply.
    Love generously.
    Care deeply.
    Speak kindly.
    Leave the rest to God.
    Best wishes in the journey, Abby!

  5. Love this article! To be honest, I still don’t feel like an adult, and I think it may be because I had this idea that adults knew how to do stuff, but the reality is that we are all walking along as best we can, falling into various potholes on the road, getting muddy, wondering if really the right road to take was on the other side of the country… A few things that help me: the Lord created and is creating me, on purpose, for a role in the universe that He already can see and that is absolutely unique – there will never be another me, which means the Lord created me with built-in value and a role I can play that makes part of His beautiful, ever-increasing design. The point isn’t for me to be an adult who has it all together, it’s to be someone who turns to Him like a child and has learned the wisdom of letting Him lead me (provided I can ever pull this off!). And I guess the other thing is that underneath all the storms and craziness and out-of-control of this life, there is a quiet unchanging strength that we can find below the surface, the Lord’s presence in our lives – we change, but He is rock-solid. I love your article, really made me think!

    1. I really appreciate those reminders – those are definitely two useful things I’ll definitely remember!

  6. Hi Abby.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings here. I’m quite amazed how long it takes (a lifetime?) to grow up.
    I like the quote from Fievel Mouskewitz cartoon when the father says, “If growing up were easy would it take so long?”
    Moving for me always brings a flood of feelings of loss. I think anyone who has lost loved ones battles with this.
    I hope I’m hearing you right: you’re struggling with how chaotic it is being an adult and you are noticing feelings of loss. Is one of the things you’ve lost the youthful sense that all is well in the world, or that when I’m grown up things will be safe and settled? If so, I sure can relate to that, especially when I was your age.
    My life has taught me that it is all a plot to get us to trust trust trust the Lord and, yes, as you say to let go. And I think that a healthy part of that growth process for me has involved feelings that I’m failing. We all keep struggling struggling to be good enough, or to have things our own way, depending on how regenerate our state is at the moment. I really hear what you are saying and I love that you are asking all these questions and sharing them in such an honest way. May you find peace about being not enough and peace in letting the Lord be enough.

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