Part of my childhood was spent growing up on a farm in Ohio. We were lucky to have a pond on our property, thanks in part to my grandpa who had the pond installed and stocked with fish so he had a place to go fishing whenever he wanted! Those ponds (there were actually two) were a huge blessing. In the summer we used them to host swimming parties or after a long hot day of doing chores, we would take a quick dip in the cool, spring fed waters which was incredibly refreshing. Sometimes it was downright freezing. But the pond in winter was magical! My Dad would keep checking the ice that formed and when he felt it was thick enough, he would get out the old Case tractor and drive around over the ice. He believed that if the ice could support the weight of that old tractor it was safe for us kids to skate. It is all the more amazing that my Dad would do this when you know that he could not swim. Anyway, once the ice was “Dad approved” we could go skating. And boy did we!
One of our favorite activities was to have friends over and build a bonfire to get warm by and make a steaming pot of hot cocoa to have when we took a break from skating. Now, I should tell you that when a bunch of us got together we would also play crack the whip. We would all line up, hold on to a rope and then skate. But we had a bit of a twist, we hooked that rope up to a six by six and when it took off, boy did we! There were a couple of lessons we learned playing crack the whip on ice skates. First, you learned how to stay on your skates! But secondly, you learned to let go of the rope when you felt yourself going down. Letting go was just as important as being able to stay upright as we zipped across the ice.
Letting go: An important life lesson we learned on that ice so many years ago.
Too many people have never learned the art of letting go and in not letting go we create problems we don’t really need to hang on to. For example: “Hoarders,” is a TV show that is all about people who can’t let go of stuff and their stuff stifles their life. They can’t even move around their homes in some cases and for some their stuff has actually killed the very people who have hoarded it by falling on them or worse causing a fire and they can’t escape. All happening because they came to a point in their life, where letting go of their stuff, became something they were unable to do. Or we allow what others think of us to define who we are. We believe the inaccuracies of their perceptions or worse their downright lies about who we are and conform to what they think about us. Then there are those of us who harbor hurt feelings. We don’t let them go and they fester and grow, eventually twisting our very souls. The added stress these harbored feelings bring into our lives even changes our outward appearance until we no longer resemble the person we once were. Dry skin, under eye bags, wrinkles, acne, grey hair are just a few of the effects stress can have on our bodies. There is nothing positive about harboring ugly emotions. In fact, I think we call them ugly emotions because the effect they have on our bodies. Now, please hear me loud and clear: none of us are ugly in any way. We are all beautiful, created by God, and fiercely loved by God. And God does not make ugly. But we can sure act ugly when we don’t let go of what is useless or what is bothering us.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29
Jesus doesn’t want us to carry around heavy burdens. Jesus doesn’t want us to live stress filled lives. Jesus doesn’t want us to harbor hurt feelings. Jesus wants us to let go. In letting go, accepting who we are, what our circumstances are, where we are…letting go of all the trash we fill our lives with…whatever it might be…allows us to move forward. We no longer need to remain stuck in old destructive patterns. When we let go, our hands are empty so we can receive all God has to offer.
What do you need to let go?