Honoring the Struggle of Letting Go

I think we can all agree on one thing: letting go is not easy.

Whether it’s letting go of something physically or emotionally, it’s often unpleasant. That’s because whatever it is, we’ve built a special connection to it. We cherish it, even have an intimate relationship with it. We’ve found value in it — whatever “it” is. Yup, that’s why letting go can be so hard.

And oh, so necessary at times.

THAT being said, can I be real and cry on your shoulder for a minute?

Recently I’ve had to let go of something incredibly important to me. Something I’ve fought hard for nearly 20 years to hold on to.

What is it, you ask?

Horses.

That’s right. Those big, smelly, sometimes-cumbersom, sometimes-distructive, sometimes-spook-for-no-reason animals. Specifically my Thoroughbred, Malcolm. 

No, he hasn’t passed away. But between my two littles, being a wife and getting this wellness-and-writing-thing off the ground, working toward a riding career simply isn’t practical at the moment. And since I haven’t been consistently riding recently because, hello, having a baby! my husband and I decided to try leasing Malcolm out for a year. And that’s what we’ve done.

But I feel a little dead inside. So much of me is tied up in that big brute – my biggest of big and deepest of deep dreams revolve around riding. And in this phase of mom-life, getting out to the barn has been my main outlet. It’s the last place I felt like “me.” So not being able to get my hands dirty, maybe pull a muscle or two and sweat from a good ride, well… it’s an ever-present, cold-numb kind of agony. 

horse-looking-into-distance

Why am I telling you this?

Because here’s the funny thing: feeling this way is okay. Walking through it and wrestling with it is alright. Most importantly, I don’t have to be afraid of how this feels.

Sometimes I feel like our culture has an allergy to discomfort. Like we’re addicted to our own emotions. We lean into the good ones and abhor anything questionable or unpleasant. Or we try to make them go away altogether: nervous?…here’s a pill. Anxious?…here’s a pill. Heartbroken?…another pill…

What’s worse is I’m afraid we rely too much on our feelings when making decisions. How many good, wise choices have been overlooked for something that makes us more warm and tingly? I do wonder if we spent as much time honoring the struggle and learning how to process uncomfortable feelings (instead of avoiding them), that we would be a better adjusted and more responsible generation. 

I’m preaching to the choir because I’m totally guilty of this. It takes effort and intention to lean into those hard feelings, be vulnerable, and chose to make our decisions based off wisdom instead of feeling.

But I digress. What do you do when faced with something you need to let go of? I know what I do…

Boy, do I fight letting go.

I pull back. I dig my fingernails in. I’ll even debate and verbally-judo my way around the situation so logically, I sound justified to hold on.

I might have mentioned it before, but my husband can be a real wise guy…in several ways. In this case, it was pretty profound. I was in a common tizzy, probably going off about my plans not going as planned, not knowing the next step, questioning my direction, if I had been making mistakes… you know, all those second-guessing, should’a-could’a-would’a thoughts. Ryan listened patiently, then when I wound down a little he reminded me of something: 

God is in control. 

While I can only see one or two things that are going on at any given moment, God is orchestrating millions of things — or more — all at once. My daily perspective is like focusing on only one pixel of color; of course it will look incomplete, misplaced or flat-out useless. But to the rest of the picture, that pixel is desperately needed. Will I ever get to see the whole picture? Maybe. Or maybe not. But if I don’t, someone else will. And that is okay with me. That’s why I need to learn to walk in faith. 

So here I am. The horse has already been leased out for a couple months. The ache is still there, but I’m realizing something I’m getting out of it. It seems God is teaching me to have confidence in Him. Not in the sense that He’ll always give me what I want – oh no, that would be destructive. But in the sense that He is always there. That He always has the best planned for me. And like how Lysa TerKeurst says, He’ll answer my prayers in the right way and at the right time. 

So I can let go and be confident.

I’ve gotta just say, I don’t want to minimize how hard letting go can be. Let’s face it, sometimes we’re thrown into circumstances way more serious than mine. The kind of circumstances that just plain suck. And we have to pull on our big-girl-panties and make decisions where finding peace doesn’t even seem possible. Those places hurt. A lot. If you’re there right now, I’m so sorry.

But please don’t miss this: Jesus sees you. He knows what you’re going through. Not only in an omnipotent, “I see all” kind of knowing. But in an I-walked-the-earth-as-a-human-and-struggled-with-the-same-things-you-struggled-with kind of way. 

I love the way Lysa TerKeurst talks about this in her book, It’s Not Supposed to be This Way. She points out that Jesus had many marked moments where he trusted his Father. He would face a challenge, then go be with his Father in prayer. I have no doubt he felt the human desires and disappointments and hurts we feel, and he used those moments alone with his Father to trade them for what God willed instead. Think of the classic example in Mark 14, where he begs for the cup of his forthcoming suffering to be taken from him. Then he submits and says in verse 36, “yet not what I will, but what You will.”

I know what you’re thinking: but I’m not Jesus. True, but if you caught my most recent post on identity, through the spirit you have the mind of Christ. 

Use that. 

Honor the struggle.

And be confident in the fact that God has the absolute best planned for you.

Have thoughts? Or maybe a favorite verse or saying that helps you let go? Share below!