Lent 2016: Letting Go
“You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” -C.S. Lewis
What happens when we release something we were holding on to so tightly? What happens when we step back and release our expectations? During Lent, there can be a lot of pressure to “fix” ourselves. There can be pressure to master all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, to finally “get it right.” But this approach isn’t practical or even physically possible. However, Lent does present a beautiful opportunity to focus on specific aspects of our lives that need work.
Countless times in our lives, we are held back from moving forward because we are desperately clinging to something. Whether it’s fear, memories, the desire for control, or refusal to let go of a specific person who should have stayed in the past, we have a hard time admitting and accepting that the things we cling to each become a little stumbling block in our lives.
Richard Rohr states, “We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem.”
We can only experience true freedom when we let go. When we let go of past hurt, we can experience the beauty of forgiveness. When we let go of feigned strength, we can experience the incredible healing that often only comes after times of vulnerability. When we let go of the desire for constant control, we can receive the graces of openness.
When we ask for God’s direction, our prayers sometimes sound like this: “Help me to know your will…as long as it includes ____.” Or, “I’ll do whatever you ask of me…except____.” We pray with conditions. But God doesn’t place conditions on His love for us, so why do we try to make our relationship with Him under our terms?
We cling to these conditions because we’re afraid of what will happen if we let go. But how many times in the Bible does Jesus stress that we have to empty ourselves to be filled? Thankfully, almost every time Jesus presents a challenge to his disciples, this challenge is followed by the words, “Be not afraid.” In order to experience true freedom, we have to let go and surrender our fears and worries to God.
Please join us each day during Lent as we dig into the topic of “letting go” through reflections and stories from our missioners, staff, alumni, board members, and friends. We asked writers to share about a specific time when they discovered the beauty or freedom that comes from letting go.
Journey with us during Lent to read about how two of our missioners are learning to let go of control and frustrations during times of violence and uncertainty in Guatemala. You’ll hear the stories of people who had to let go of their life plans in order to follow a new and unforeseen path. You’ll read about a missioner’s realization that she needed to let go of pretenses in order to integrate into the community in Bolivia.
Each post will include reflection questions to encourage introspection as well as spark discussion with others. After reading each post, we invite you to take a moment to sit with each question and answer it with honesty in your own heart.
Thank you for journeying with us.
Reflection Question: In what parts of my life do I need to let go? Am I ready to let go?
*Featured image and banner: Original watercolor painted by Development Associate Sarah Sokora