Life Lessons #5 : Letting Go

Today I let something go that I worked on for the last five months that meant a lot to me. It was my creation, it is an expression of myself and my passion. I would not have let it go except for unexplainable resistance. Letting it go was not easy because my natural inclination is to resist, defend, fight or rescue whatever is resisting. I’ve certainly reacted with defensiveness in the past when I felt that i was wronged or treated unfairly, but that rarely does anything but cause havoc and chaos for both parties. It rarely resolves the situation. Paying back evil for evil is never a real solution. As Chris Matthews says in his book Hardball, it’s always better to get ahead than to get back. Just move on, and trust that good and better things will come.

The Pope once asked Orson Welles why no one was giving acclaim to his poetry. He told the pope it was a “conspiracy of silence.” Orson Welles told the pope, “Join it.” Today I joined it.

And that was just today. Most of life is an experience in releasing what we most dearly love, or most dearly hate, so that our lives are not fixed on it, then we gain something unexpected and new. As Jesus said long ago, “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Why did I let go today? Because I’ve learned in my life to not counter resistance with resistance. And I was getting resistance every which I way that I turned. Not for any reason that I could know. Not for any reason that anyone explained to me. But it just wasn’t working out, and I finally surrendered. The “old” Todd would have spent days analyzing it, writing emails to people defending myself, or throwing a pity party. Today, I decided not to waste one day thinking, analyzing, defending and blaming. The “new” Todd just walked away from it to trust that something new will emerge, and perhaps even as a result of my efforts.

It’s taken me this long in my life to learn that nothing good comes by resistance or force. I’ve never experienced a solid friendship that I had to cajole into befriending me. I’ve never found a church to be satisfying that I had to convince to like me. I’ve never enjoyed a meaningful dating relationship that I had to overwhelm with kindness or attention to make it happen. The best things in my life have come to me in the most unexpected ways, when I wasn’t looking, or when I wasn’t trying too hard. In most cases, it seemed they came clearly from the hand of God or someone who was looking out for me when I didn’t even know it. They are serendipity.

That then means that we also have to make a daily practice of letting go of both our failures and our successes. Don’t put trust in either one. If I fail today, or don’t “knock it out of the park” at work or at home, I just have to let it go. That’s part of being human, and all part of the dance. If we focus on our failures and place them at the center of our day or our hearts, then all of life will become defined by that one big or small failure. Release it to go God and the wind, and keep moving. Sometimes we too have to let go of our successes because we also know that we are human, and tomorrow we likely will fail. If we cling to our successes, we have no room for new possibilities to emerge. The only way to multiply our lives so that it is an abundant harvest is to let the seed fall to the ground. We must surrender both our failures and our successes, the things we love and the things we despise, and then wait until a new wind blows. To live this way is to give up control of our lives so that every move is a forced move, and to just give ourselves over to the unforced rhythms of life’s dance.

Another Teacher said it this way, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it … and whoever loses his life will save it.”

2 Responses to “Life Lessons #5 : Letting Go”
  1. Big Load says:

    This is one of the most wise entries you have posted. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Phillip says:

    I like that you mentioned letting go of both successes and failures. I need to learn to do both (esp. when I read student evaluations of my classes!). I think the resistance to do so, in part arises out of a need to feel justified before myself, before others, and before God, to earn acceptance rather than accept grace. Good post.

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