Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Art of Letting Go

Once upon a time I was a swing-jumper. I vividly remember pumping my legs back and forth, back and forth as I watched the sky grow closer and felt my heart race with wild anticipation. At just the right moment, I’d let go and fly through the air with reckless abandon.

Letting go was the best part.

It’s been at least 25 years since I jumped from a swing and I’ve wondered how something that used to be completely innate became so completely foreign.

I still love a good adrenaline rush. It’s the letting go that gets me. It’s the letting go that I’ve had to re-learn.

That’s because I became quite good at holding on.

As I moved further from girlhood and closer to womanhood, holding on gradually came as naturally to me as the letting go had been when I was eight.

Holding on to the past and all the hurts and mistakes therein. Holding on to what I wanted my present to look like and how it didn’t measure up. Holding on to a future over which I had {and still have} no control. Holding on to so many levels of perfection I couldn’t even keep up with where I’d placed all of my type-A lists and mandates. Holding on to guilt and “if-only’s” and too much worry…

No longer the girl who lived life with reckless abandon and smiled at the sun, I became the wife and then the careerist and then the mom who got bogged down in the travails of the trivial. In short, I became a grown up.

But some sort of miracle gradually started to unfold about a year ago.

I began, slowly but deliberately, to reverse the havoc time had wreaked.

I started celebrating the everyday, disarray included. I grabbed hold of moments here and there and lived life as a child. It was painfully awkward and unnatural at first.

Like some sort of crash victim who had to re-learn basic mobility and motor functions, I had to learn how to let go again. And oddly enough, my kids became the therapists. They are, after all, the experts. I wonder how they got so wise.

Daily I’m learning. Some days I make tremendous strides, spurred on by the applause of those who love me most. Other days are met with relapse and regression.

It is both a conscious choice on my part and a grace bestowed by a Creator who knows me well and listens, daily, to my desperate pleas for help. Prayers tossed up like pancakes as I’m sopping up juice, wiping tears {theirs and mine}, listening to jokes that don’t really have a punch-line, realizing that the to-do list will never find completion and wondering if there will ever come a day of regular showering.

Some days the celebrating gets tricky…but it’s always possible.

Tonight I will go to bed knowing that I could have folded the laundry, finished up the dishes, mopped the floor and put more time into this post. Instead, my head will hit the pillow and marvel that I simply let it all go.

I read loads of books with the kids on our well-worn sofa in the messy living room, served as a jungle gym for my 2-year-old, tickled my boys until they could take no more, and laughed hysterically with my daughter through the season premiere of American Idol.

And while that sort of thing may come naturally for some, it was a monumental victory for me, full of imaginary fanfare amid such ordinariness.

Letting go of holding on is still hard. The achieving perfectionist who desperately wants more to show for her toil at the end of the day is never far beneath the surface. Not to mention her sister, the brooding second-guesser with the iron grip on all that past, present, future nonsense. And don’t even get me started on the guilt-monger.

But every day I say no to their familiar siren calls is one step closer to an everyday of finding childlike freedom and joy in the thrill of letting go.


Linked to Tuesdays Unwrapped {Chatting at the Sky}

It goes without saying that Tuesdays have served as a great source of inspiration and encouragement as I've practiced the {still-budding} art of letting go. {To Emily and my fellow unwrappers, thank you.}


  1. AMAZING POST!! You write beautifully my friend. You are amazing! I love you!

  2. Scooper,
    Thanks for sharing your gift of writing with us.
    I really enjoyed this post.
    love ya!

  3. Beautiful thoughts woven into wonderful words that this gal was blessed to read.

    Thanks for sharing, I need to re-learn letting go too. ;)

  4. These are hard lessons. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Love it Marian! I love you and I love your life. :)

  6. You make me weep . . . and laugh . . . and sigh . . . and wish . . . and reflect . . . and desire to do it all over again . . . and thank God that He doesn't grant that desire . . . and thank Him again . . . for YOU.

    Love you forever,

  7. What a well written, beautiful post. You nailed you emotions as well as a lot of mine. Thank you. Loving your blog:)

  8. My word, Scooper. "The travails of the trivial"? This is inspired. Truly. Thank you for all that you do so well. Not the least of which is putting just enough into this blog post.

  9. I love this reflection on freedom. You had me read a book called a Scandalous Freedom by Steve Brown that gave me my first real breakthrough on the concept, remember? It's nice to know a grownup who can see outside the grown-up-ness that isn't a life of freedom. And it's funny how letting go frees you.

    I like your mom's comment.

  10. I LOVE this post. As a former swing jumper who is learning these "letting go" lessons as well, it really spoke to my heart. Recently, the Lord has shown me just how stressed out and grown up I've become. Really, I've not just grown up, I've grown old menatlly and there is a not-so-good difference. I'm tired of the trivial and so ready to live each day with fresh abandon. Thanks so much for the reminder and for letting me know I'm not alone or totally crazy.

  11. you just don't even know how much i love reading your posts!!! you are an incredible writer marian!

  12. It's so nice to meet you!!! I love your blog, and loved this post.

    I too, have a type A personality with OCD to top it off! There is NOTHING MORE freeing that just letting it go, and trusting God!

    Well put!


  13. I loved this post. It really spoke to me. I too have trouble letting go of the past. I'm much happier when I can live in the present. Thanks for the reminder.


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