The Transforming Act of Letting Go
Yesterday I had some issues with my computer and I couldn't do my usual, daily Facebook live event at the time I usually do it.
It took me a full thirty minutes to finally figure things out and get things up and running. I eventually had to download an entirely different internet browser, and launch things from there.
I was beating myself up pretty good about it. I figured that it was all my fault, that somehow I had messed things up on my computer, and that I failed.
I later found out that everyone trying to use Google Chrome or Safari (the other two internet browsers I use) was having the same problem that I was having. I wasn't alone.
The people who usually tune in to watch the Daily Devo live on a weekly basis were all amazing. Some of them sent me texts, emails, and messages telling me that it was all okay, and not to stress about it.
But I had already begun spinning. And at the exact moment I was trying to figure out what was wrong with the interwebs... the Stanley Steemer guys finished cleaning our carpet and wanted to get paid.
There was a moment when I felt like running from my house screaming hysterically down the street like a madman. I even pictured what it would look like, and it was warmly satisfying, believe it or not.
After I calmed down, I found myself thinking a bit more deeply about what had happened, and how my experience might translate to what some of you might be feeling right about now as well.
I recalled a quote that I'd written down a few weeks ago, and it came back to me today as I pondered all of this:
The nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the garden - Arab sayingThings happen to us sometimes---things we can't control. Like an internet browser that doesn't work. Or more like a global pandemic... that's definitely something we can't control. Or grief, loss and sadness... or feelings of inadequacy... They fall like rain upon us.
And when the rain falls it can either grow thorns or flowers---depending on the nature of the ground upon which it falls.
If I have cultivated nothing but marsh land in my soul, if my spirit is swamped with fear, worry, dread, anger, bitterness, etc. the rain will bring only thorns.
But if I have tended my soul, if I have cultivated fertile ground by seeking peace, hope, joy and love... if I have let go of unhealthy attachments, surrendered my outcomes... when the rain falls it will provide the showers that are needed to grow flowers in that fertile ground.
How we cultivate that fertile ground by transforming our pain, frustrations, doubts, fears, feelings of inadequacy... it is entirely up to us. We have a choice to make every single day about what we are going to do with our hurts, or the stresses of the day---even during times of complete upheaval.
Fr. Richard Rohr once wrote:
Great religion shows you what to do with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust. If we do not transform this pain, we will most assuredly transmit it to others, and it will slowly destroy us in one way or another.In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus took up the topic of worry and stress--focusing on how so many of us worry about having enough, being enough, doing enough. He told his followers this:
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.The worry, the stress, the pain that exists within us when we are struggling with unhealthy attachments, constant anxiety it can eat us alive. Jesus exhorted his followers to let go of all it, and to allow our pain to be transformed into something life giving:
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.There is so much truth in those words. When we let go of our attachments to worry, stress and the pain that comes from believing we aren't enough, we soon discover that we have the capacity to see more clearly, feel more deeply and live more abundantly.
May you find the strength to let go of your pain, worry, fears and doubts--all of the attachments that are keeping you from transforming them. And then may you discover that you have enough bread for your journey today--because all you have is today, right now, right here.
May you then find that the peaceful kingdom of God is all around you, in you and through you. And that you are enough.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.