What happens when we let go? What happens when we let go – of clothes that we think we might could possibly fit into again, of the retirement plan based on winning the powerball, of the idea that the perfect family looks like Ward, June, Wally, and the Beav – google it, it’s worth seeing June do housework in a dress, and Ward in a cardigan smoking a pipe to relax after changing from his suit and tie from work.
What happens when we let go? Of the desire to be taller, thinner, younger, older, essentially more perfect in every outwardly appearancing way? Of the idea that we are what our portfolios, or position and title, or the talent of our kids, or our brand of car (or truck – jes sayin’) say we are? Of the idea that everyone else has it all together and we’re the only ones struggling to try to find our keys, spilling blueberry yogurt on a light yellow turtleneck on the way out the door, and STILL going back to the car after being halfway across the parking lot to get a mask.
What happens when we let go? Of the decision that everything has to be perfect for a holiday to be special – in 2020 or really any year? Of the part of the conversation in our heads that are self-negating and frankly untrue? Of the insecurities and fears that incite anger against those who are different and therefore strange and wrong in our sometimes limited vision. Of our need for others to affirm our opinions on everything from politics to the economy to the way those millennial and gen x, y, and z neighbors parent their kids???
What happens when we let go? Of believing that our “normal” is and/or should be everyone’s normal. That the biggest goal in this pandemic is to get back to that “normal” and write this off as something that sorta never happened. Of believing that to be o.k., we must generally ignore that the numbers of deaths are real people who have left real families who are filled with grief and will be for a long, long time. Of having a stiff upper lip in every situation and expecting that of those around us as well?
What happens when we let go . . . just. let. go.
Self-confession, I’m not good at that, the whole letting go thing. A good friend recently sent me an email article on brain-detox. It seems all the rage in the last few years to detox from sugar, or carbs, or screen-time, or essentially any negative habits in our lives that don’t help us feel good. All those eat more healthy, take breaks from social media and screens, and get more exercise are part of the brain detox., but so also is what I understood in the midst of all the words, letting go – of the way we think things, the world, ourselves should be, and making peace with how all those things simply are.
With that rolling around in my head last night while I was playing a game on my screen and therefore not going to bed on time for the healthy amount of sleep after eating too many chips within the 2-3 hour time period you shouldn’t before laying down, I thought to myself how funny we humans are. We look at and sometimes invest in, I resemble that remark, plans to change our appearance, our sleep, our nutrition, our strength and endurance – all good things – and we might overlook the basis for it all – remember I’m a pastor – our faith in a good and grace-filled God. Whaaaaat?!?
You know who first accepts us exactly as we are? In fact I believe much of the time revels in joy at the unique and creative wonder that each of us live and become each and every day? Simply the one who created us to be human and vulnerable and messy and funny and tragic and courageous beyond belief and sometimes scared of our own shadow! The message of the gospel? We are loved and forgiven and loved and invited to grow and loved and offered instruction and loved and pointed toward serving others and loved and forgiven . . . as. we. are.
We’re about to make a really big deal about preparing and receiving the birth of a baby born over 2,000 years ago not even in our neck of the woods! It’s not even Thanksgiving yet and I KNOW some of you have already started decorating for that birth – for that unearned, unexpected, announced only to shepherds gift from God. And what was the heart of the gift???
Let. It. Go!!! The need for perfection to be accepted. The need for titles and money to have value. The need to place on others our expectations of what life should look like. The need to judge the self with a harshness we think is humility but serves only to cause enough pain we express it in our harsh judgment of others. Simply. Let. It. Go. The need to earn our way into someone’s good graces, because the gospel tell us that is not God! God’s expectation is that we love God and our neighbors as ourselves. And when we do that, all the other wackadoodle things we think will happen might just take care of themselves – you know – selfishness, egotism, perfectionism, greed, trying to take a speck out of someone else’s eye before taking the log out of your own, thought I’d throw a Jesus quote in there for good measure.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Let it go, me too, the frustration that it isn’t going to be the way it always was or maybe will be again. Let it be beautiful and filled with grace in its own right. Pray strength for the hundreds of thousands of folks around the world grieving loss in this pandemic, and receive the grace God wants to gift you with for the day. And maybe, step outside for a few moments and in the top of your voice safely distanced from anyone and everyone, belt out a chorus of . . . “Let it go . . . let it go . . .”
See what’s happening for Advent and Christmas at Grace!