Letting Go & Letting In

You ask me late one night how to let go.

Midnight has slipped by us, and the blue message stares up at me boldly. How do I let go? I’ve prayed that question more times than I can count. When chapters ended. When boxes were packed and new keys placed in hand. When friendships faded, or when pain seared my heart. Or when love slipped into the atmosphere like a balloon into the abyss.

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I can’t tell you how to let go when I feel that I am so unskilled at it. I can’t tell you that it looks like a smile and a tearless face, or that it looks like going back. I don’t think we can just go back so easily, you know. I don’t know if we are meant to. We are different people than we were before. And I don’t think we are meant to go back when the writing is on the page and the chapter has ended. We are meant to turn the page to the next one.

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But what I do know of letting go, is that it looks like a lot of letting in.

People will always tell you that time heals wounds. Time will make it better, they’ll say. And in the midst of the pain and the heartache and the endings you won’t really want to hear it. Time won’t matter because what matters in the moment is the breaking. But I can tell you this: pain always needs a healer. And it isn’t Time. It’s the One who made you, the One who’s by you and wants to see the broken pieces made whole. Letting go means a lot of letting in – letting in the light into the broken places.

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I know that letting go won’t always look like what we think it will. It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen until we let the new chapter begin. Endings always mean beginnings. And that’s probably the saddest and best thing you’ll learn about letting go.

I think that letting go is the hardest and best thing we’ll ever do. The other day, as I drove down the highway, I thought a lot about whether it’s easier to be the one letting go, or the one to be let go. I am packing my bags in mere weeks. I am jumping. I am doing the scary thing. It’s scary to be the one let go – the one encouraged to leave – but it’s also scary to be the one letting go. I don’t know if one is worse than the other but I think both will change us. Both will challenge us. If we let it. And that’s what I mean by letting in, sweet girl – you need to be the one to realize that in letting go – you’re going to change. Your hands will be freer. Your heart will be battered. You’ll have let them have the piece of you that no one else will. Some friendships are meant to end. Some relationships are meant to end. Some places are meant to be a home for a season.

And you need to let that change you. It’s supposed to. And when it’s over, and you realize it’s done its work, you need to stop holding so hard. You need to release your fingers and let it go. Let him go. Let her go. Let the ink dry and turn the page. I can’t give you a timeline, but you’ll know. Be the brave one and let go. Let in.

It might be the hardest and best thing you’ll ever do. But you’ll do it. And you’ll be okay. And you’ll be braver for it.

I have been. I will be.

And you will be, too.

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Brushstrokes and Questions

There were Christmas decorations to put away, and a few lunch dishes to wash. But I climbed into my car, and I parked on a snowy street, and I jay walked my way into the National Art Gallery.

I always forget how much I love art until I stand in front of paintings that envelope me. I feel fully alive as I make my way through echoing hallways and stand close to brushstrokes and canvases. I wandered the gallery, getting lost in thoughts and in emotions until I found myself in the middle of the building, a snow covered glass roof above me and an opening to an indoor garden below. I pulled out my new purple Moleskin, fresh and beautiful in its emptiness, and sat down to put pen to paper.

Because today I stared at paintings but I didn’t really see them. Maybe I saw a few – I got lost in Van Gogh’s mesmerizing, thick brushstrokes, so layered I could almost feel his hands moving across the canvas. I stood for what seemed like hours in front of Monet’s representation of London’s fog, bare outlines of whatever lay behind it.

But mostly I was more aware of myself as I moved through the gallery. I saw myself in the way artists sought for their answers in each canvases, as they struggled to make sense of the way they saw and understood life. I felt their questions more than I felt any answers and as I moved from one room to the next, I figured maybe having no answers was okay. Maybe the point is not always to know where you’re going, but just to keep moving. Keep asking. Keep looking.

All my life I have been told to guard your heart. Protect it, they say. Don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve and just stop falling so hard. But I am just not so sure, you see, if what they have told me is true. I don’t know if protecting your heart means running from the hard paces. I think protecting your heart might look a little more like whispering, “You’ll be okay. You’ll be a little broken, maybe even a lot. You won’t be sure of some things, and others you’ll figure out along the way. But those broken pieces? those will create scars that tell the beautiful story, the one that tells of risks and loss and being broken to be put back together again.”

I think that might be what protecting your heart might be like. I think we’ve been told all our lives to avoid the hard places, to treat slowly. But I just don’t know. I just think that we are brave, us humans. I think we need to break and hurt and heal. I think God’s got us, and He’d be the first one to stand next to us on the ledge and tell us that when we jump, it’ll be scary. When our feet hit the water and our body glides into it, it’ll feel strange and our bodies will tingle and our hair will be wet and our skin wrinkly. But that water will remind us of who we are – we’ll get to the shore again, and when we do, our bodies will be changed and altered and we will remember what it’s like to come alive.

Because we’ll have jumped,

we’ll have risked,

and we’ll be okay. And maybe, always, we will be better for it. 

 

It’s Okay.

Twenties are exciting. There’s a lot of change. A lot of hellos, a lot of goodbyes. There’s a lot of learning who you are and who you hope to be.

One of these things I am learning … I guess I just don’t want to be the one who is there when needed but when I’m not needed I am not even a thought. We learn and will prioritize what’s important to us. It’s pretty simple. What we love we will hold onto, and we’ll carve out time in our twelve hours of daylight for space for you to reside in. I wish I had the capacity to love and hold onto more – but my hands only hold onto so much.

Continue reading “It’s Okay.”

Fall leaves and barren trees

Henri Nouwen wrote that “joy and sadness are as close to each other as the splendid coloured leaves of a New England fall to the soberness of the barren trees. When you touch the hand of a returning friend, you already know that he will have to leave you again. When you are moved by the quiet vastness of a sun-covered ocean, you miss the friend who cannot see the same. Joy and sadness are born at the same time, both arising from such deep places in your heart that you can’t find words to capture your complex emotions.”

I read these words on Saturday, as I tried to understand how I could feel sorrow at the beginning of something good. It was as if my heart, although full of joy at the newness of change, couldn’t fully experience that joy – because it was already preparing itself for when it would end.

I realized and wondered if joy and sorrow are inexplicably linked. Because isn’t one gain a sign of many losses, too? One beautiful, glorious triumph is truly built of all the falls leading up to it. As I celebrate the newness of this season in my life, of change and moves and unknowns, I also am sorrowful for what I too have lost – a childhood chapter closed, friendships changing, shifting roles. With every gain, there is so much loss. Yet with every loss, there is oh so much gain.

I am a big believer in seasons of life – that most things have a beginning and an end. But secretly? I also loathe their existence. I hate that some friends are meant for a season. And I even hate that some people are meant just for a conversation, that they are meant to impart wisdom for the two hours you sit across from them in a crowded airplane. It’s sad to me that some jobs are meant just for a time, and it breaks my heart that some homes are meant for a childhood.  I am not good at juggling the contrasting things in life.

But I am trying.

I am trying to embrace both the joy and sorrow, and to hold them together as if they are both beautiful and needed.

I am trying to embrace beginnings and endings, as if they both shape me in different but good ways.

I’m trying to see God in the seasons of life – the short ones and the long ones, the dark ones and the bright ones.

I’m making the constant decision that He is the Redeemer and Author of all things,

of hellos and goodbyes,

of beginnings and endings,

and of fall leaves and barren trees.