Eight months ago, I planted a word in my heart, hoping it would grow into something I could see throughout the year.
In the beginning, it sprouted visible shoots. I started seeing evidence of something happening, something I couldn’t explain or coerce or make happen. I’m no gardener, but I’ve known the thrill of planting a seed in the soil, watering it, and faithfully waiting for growth. This One Word 365 process has been a lot like that. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I chose “release” as my word, but I knew it would be a year of letting go. In big ways and small ways. And as the months have passed, not only has my awareness of “release” grown, but I’ve changed.
And now it’s August. And I haven’t reflected on “release” in months, but I’m finding that the tender shoots I saw months ago have grown into full-blown fruit-bearing plants.
Release is alive, and my life is bearing fruit. <Click to tweet>
I’ve seen it on Twitter.
— LifeWay Women (@LifeWayWomen) June 20, 2013
Forcing the question: What am I holding on to that God wants me to release?
In the past two months, we packed up the house we’d been living in for almost five years and moved to a city about 30 miles away. To a new place, a new community, a fresh start. We’ve taken load after load of stuff we no longer use or want to thrift stores. We junked more than I’d care to admit. In our last house, we experienced a flood that forced us to let go of things we cherished. Even now, I’m learning that memories are the best treasure.
Most surprising, I think, has been the recent revelation. That “release” doesn’t only apply to me. That sometimes I have to release others to their actions and behaviors, to God’s grace and mercy, because it’s too draining for me to carry their burdens for them. “Let go and let God” was one of the first pieces of Godly advice I ever received, and it fits in some circumstances.
I can’t change other people, so I’ll lend my strength where it can do some good. First and foremost, in me.
“Release” was everywhere over the past few months. I found its influence in numerous books.
In James Rubart’s Book of Days.
Letting go wasn’t letting go of her. It was releasing himself to live whatever life he had left, with whatever memories he could hold on to.
And in Julie Cantrell’s Into the Free.
It’s hard, letting go of the need to control things. My instinct is to want to feel safe, to keep my feet on the ground and my eyes open for signs of danger.
In Shauna Niequist’s Bread & Wine.
But if the last few years have taught me anything at all, it’s that the very things you think you need most desperately are the things that can transform you the most profoundly when you do finally decide to release them.
I’m still chewing on those words.
As I am these ones from Brennan Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel.
The grace to let go and let God be God flows from trust in His boundless love.
And pages from Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. Here are just a few of her words that touched me.
Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust. I can let go.
I humbly open my hand to release my will to receive His.
And in this passage from Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman:
You know a long time ago when I was younger and more daring I went zip-lining across a canyon. I don’t remember a whole lot about the experience except something the guide said to me before I stepped off my safe little perch to fly across the canyon. He said, ‘Trust the harness.’ And that helped me to let go. I wasn’t nearly as afraid when I went across that chasm. You need to trust me, Lily, but more importantly, you need to trust the One who made you. The One who has you safely in His arms … sort of like trusting that harness. It really makes the letting go a lot easier.
The year isn’t over, yet I can already taste the sweetness of this fruit.