“Everything I have ever let go of has claw marks on it. Everything.”
~ David Foster Wallace ~
I resonate with this sentiment of this quote. It is hard and often painful to let go. As people, we tend to hold onto things. However, claw marks would indicate that someone is yanking something away from you. It isn’t really like that, is it? We have free will. We choose whether to hold on to things or to let them go. We each have the power to lay something down at the foot of the cross and walk away. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it is our choice.
I didn’t always think about things that way. Sometimes wisdom comes from the most unexpected of places. About five years ago, I was at my friend Robin’s house at a barbecue. She had been trying to quit smoking for a while and the habit kept drawing her back in. She and our pastor were having a conversation and I caught just a snippet of it. He told her, “He isn’t going to just pry it out of your hands. You have to give it to Him.” Two sentences overheard at a barbecue began to change the way I thought about everything. As I thought about my prayers—"God, please take this from me”—I began to realize that He doesn’t take anything without me surrendering it first. I have to be willing to let go.
Why has this mindset shift been so powerful for me? Well, I know that I am 100% responsible for everything in my life at this moment. If there is something in my life that I know I need to let go of, I no longer pray “God, please take this from me.” but instead I pray “God, help me to be willing to surrender this.”
As my mind and heart began to change and I took full responsibility for what I did, this way of thinking bled into my career. This one direction-shift helped me find the path of entrepreneurship, organization, and efficiency. I was not content with teaching anymore. I was not content with the state of my home. I was not content with not finishing the tasks I had set out to do. So I began to pray, “God, do you want me in this job? If not, help me be willing to give up the security this job is providing. God, help me to trust you more by stepping out of this job and into the future you have for me.” By the way, it is a process. We have to be gentle with ourselves in the midst of making changes. I’m still not 100% happy with the state of my home, but I have made huge progress in changing what I needed to change to create forward movement. I have let go of a lot of excess stuff. My closets are a whole new experience. I now know exactly where to find things and where they go when I am finished with them. That doesn’t mean that my office is always neat and tidy! But I have a process to get it that way quickly.
God usually won’t just take our habits or our problems in one fell swoop. Surrender is a daily activity. What can you surrender today?