Letting Go And Letting Come
In late winter of this year I journeyed to a private retreat in the woods of southern Georgia. I came to the retreat with expectations of “getting answers to life’s persistent questions” which at that moment, concerned my future. What will my transition into full time spiritual direction, art, and writing look like? How can it be successful? What would success be? What shall I eat, where shall I live? You know, all those questions that we Gentiles have and seek answers to.
What actually happened was unexpected and beyond expectation. I didn’t meet God, God met me. He invited me into an environment that He elegantly prepared. When I crossed that threshold, I felt embraced. Without even noticing it happened,I let go of my questions, and took a seat at the table with Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.
The week was a continuous and intimate conversation with the Trinity, a weaving of walks along new trails, watching sunsets through a bare oak forest, readings, meditation, and daily conversations with Gail, my spiritual director for the retreat.
It was in my third meeting with Gail that a heart changing question showed up as a thread. That thread grew into a motif that held much of what God was beginning to teach me that week.
“Have you ever heard of Theory U?” asked Gail. I hadn’t, and she gave a brief explanation of the method of processing change used by people and organizations. The part of the theory she spoke, and phrases that stayed with me into that night, through the rest of my retreat, and even now, weeks later, was “letting go” and “letting come.”
What needs to be let go so that the new may come?
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, The Message
“Letting Go” seems to be big in many circles these days. 99 items in the kitchen, 15 personal possessions, tiny homes, no home. Minimalism has become a near religion for some, with many practicing the rite of de-materializing for a variety of reasons.
But this “letting go” and “letting come,” drop and rise, and together they feel less like ritual and more like a natural flow and a divine invitation. To allow something new to come, swelling and full into my life, what was in the way?
The fist day of my retreat I began to see how God was helping me notice my perfectionism, my need to get it right at least 80% of the time (less than that, and I label it EPIC FAIL.) It was a state of mind and heart tied to fear and the illusion of control. My perfectionism also made me feel responsible for others and their choices. All these went on the left side of my “U”, the letting go.
On the right side I listed what I sensed God inviting me into – the new. Below is my “U” for this retreat and season. In the midst was God walking with me — counseling, courting, and encouraging me. Allow the new to come and the old to drop away.
It’s been some weeks since I created my “U” and so much has changed in my life in little and big ways. A global pandemic is forcing loss of things, experiences, and people I’d counted on to always be there. Rather than letting go, much is denied me, Like you, I’m wondering when life will get back to normal, or perhaps, what the new normal will be.
In this time between, though, there is an invitation. What have I lost that I should allow to stay lost or give up as lost? What may return to my life, that I might be better not to allow back in, but to let go so that the new may come?
In this season, what does your “U” look like?
To allow the new that God has invited to come into your life, what is in the way?
What needs to be let go of so that the new may come?