One of the hardest things to do in life is to let go. The more we love something, the more likely we are to hold on to it as tightly as we can. The more we want something, the more we obsess about it until we get it. The more right we think we are, the harder it is to concede the point or forgive the person who we believe has wronged us. The more attached we are, the more difficult it is to let go.
And so we have one of life’s beautiful paradoxes and a lifetime of opportunities to learn this fundamental lesson of letting go.
It is often said that when we are in nature, we are able to experience our own essence, that we can get a sense of the connectedness of all things. A simple but powerful example of this is a bird in flight, wings spread and effortlessly gliding through the air. Watching a bird soar in the sky, I get a sense of the greater forces of life at work. The bird gracefully relies on the interplay of wind, gravity and this gives way to the magic of flight. All it does is spread its wings and enjoy the ride.
Imagine what the bird’s flight trajectory would look like if it was constantly fussing and flailing its wings in angst, never sure of its course, always doubting its ability to fly and fearing a collision.
This is how many of us live. We doubt our true nature and purpose. Even when we get a sense of what it is, we reluctantly follow our instincts, kicking and screaming the whole way, holding on for dear life. What’s worse, many of us are like birds who don’t even know they can fly and so we live our entire lives on a tree branch under the shade, completely oblivious to our own greatness and our capabilities.
But just as birds were made to fly, we were made to live life to the fullest, to express our gifts and talents, to create, to love, to thrive. Coming to this realization can create a life-changing spark that sets us on the path of our calling. That’s the first step.
The harder part comes once we’re on the path. The fire inside us has been lit and we have a purpose for our lives, we know what we’re here to do and the direction of our life course is set. Then what? Do we simply spread our wings and trust the winds to carry us in majestic flight? Are we willing to change our course if the weather dictates it? Can we adapt to the changing seasons of life?
This is where we must be willing to trust, let go and let God do His part. When we want something so bad that we become attached to it, we inhibit the natural flow of things. When we hold on too tight to a particular outcome or trajectory for our lives, we leave no room for God to lend a hand, to get us to where we are meant to go in the best and quickest way possible. Doing this requires us to be humble enough to realize that we don’t always know what’s best, that the quickest path to where we want to get to might be different than what we thought. Ultimately, letting go means striking the delicate balance between doing and being, between passion and patience, between having a vision and being present for every step along the way.
There are a million ways for us to thrive, to love, to create, to express. Our job is to remain committed to ‘the what’ and not ‘the how’. As the seasons of life change, we have to be willing to adapt and change course, we have to have faith in the Uni-verse and know that we will be guided, supported and provided for. When we worry, doubt, fear and hold on too tightly, life doesn’t flow and we leave no room for forces greater than our own to aid us.
So where have you been holding on too tight? Where in your life are you so attached to a particular outcome that you’re not allowing for the God to help you out? Where can you let go and trust God to guide, support and provide for you?
Written for The Daily Love (Dec. 11th, 2011)