I have always said that my greatest strength is also my greatest weakness. Me defining that greatest strength as the amount that I care for people. Because of this deep love and care for those I allow to get close I have also realized that I struggle with something that in many ways goes hand in hand with caring. I have a deep struggle of letting go. When it comes to people I will fight for a relationship long past the point of any legitimate friendship. And I have always been this way. I admire it and I also hate it. I trap myself in this battle of when is enough enough? I want to have hope that a friendship can go back to the way it was, or a person can go back to the way they were. But I am clinging to something that is out of my control. It becomes a near obsession of thought when I worry about certain people. Wishing beyond anything I could help them. That they would let me help them. I make myself involved in situations that I don’t need to be involved in. I go to comfort people who maybe I shouldn’t be comforting. And I fight for people when maybe what they need is to lose. I invest myself so deeply that when they move on I’m left heartbroken and empty. I’m left wishing they would realize how much I cared for them and I linger in this thought far longer than I ever should have to. Because I struggle with letting go. This is the cage I choose to contain myself in. These are the bars that keep me from the freedom of moving on.
I think many of us have been in the situation of knowing what needs to be done and yet holding out to see if the situation will come around. To provide chance, after chance, after chance when maybe what we are being told to do is to leave it be. To let go of it. And the circumstances are different for everyone.
Maybe you are holding on to a past relationship as you watch them move on. Maybe a boyfriend or a girlfriend, an ex-husband, or an ex-wife. Maybe someone you loved has died and you feel like moving on means forgetting. Maybe you are punishing yourself for something you did in the past. Maybe you carry around this past wound that someone left you. An abusive relationship or maybe someone cheated on you or stabbed you in the back and in your mind you just can’t trust anyone fully ever again. You can’t let someone else get close because that is where you were hurt the most. Maybe even the very thing you need to let go of is yourself. Trapped in your own cage of pride. “If I were to show this side of me it would be the end.”
This burden is carried by many. And it kills the heart.
Jesus said “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me.”
Our hearts aren’t meant to carry these burdens.
So many of us are worried by what it will mean if we let go, if we move on. And it’s that paranoia that contains us. The Scriptures constantly talk about worries. In 1 Peter 5 it says “Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you.”
How many of us actually trust this? I mean if we trusted this we would do it more often. Christ died for our freedom yet so many people still carry this burden from our past. God said we are a new creation. A new life, a fresh start. Every day is a fresh start. A new beginning. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” If you have ever carried a burden for some time and finally trusted someone else enough to share it… didn’t that burden feel lifted? Didn’t that weight lessen?
So often we get caught up in trying to resolve issues ourselves. And doesn’t that always seem to make the pain worse? The burden heavier? I mean look at revenge. People wronged us or hurt us so badly that the only thing we can think of is to get even. Revenge is simply prolonging the letting go. You are saying I would rather have to deal with this longer and probably watch it get uglier. Revenge is saying that “I don’t trust God enough to take care of this. In fact I could probably do better.” And then we just feel worse.
“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”-Romans 12:19
So often we feel like we have to control things. That we have to see things through.
God says don’t you worry about it. I’ll take care of it. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of that statement. God asks you to let him deal with it. To trust him. That peace of telling someone what’s really going on. That weight lifted. That hardened feeling broken.
Jesus says “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The words themselves bring a sort of warmth to the heart. Jesus is saying “I see what you are carrying. Give it to me. I’ve got this.”
There are some people that we just keeping putting faith in that they will come around. I see so many people in relationships where they are being mistreated. And maybe you do too. And you sit there thinking “Why are they dating this person?” “Look at what she puts up with.” or “Look at how he treats her.” Have you not been there too? Maybe it wasn’t a dating relationship maybe it was just a friend but it was someone who just constantly walked all over you and for whatever reason you stayed around. Because you have hope in that person. You once felt love by them and you know it exists and so you put up with being mistreated. And you put up with abuse. And you get trapped in their mess. And you keep coming back to the problem. And then you become part of the problem.
God never dealt with people this way. In fact very often God gave people over to their problems. When people continually disobeyed him and he would provide for them and love them and they constantly abused their relationship with God, God gave them over to their evil desires. We create our own punishment.
“Your own conduct and actions
have brought this on you.
This is your punishment.
How bitter it is!
How it pierces to the heart!”
He left them to sit in their problems. (Romans 1) Because sometimes people need to be left with their mess to realize what they need to clean up. Sometimes people need to be alone to gather just how lost they are. You may actually be doing them damage by staying around. But you are without a doubt doing yourself a damage by staying in it. If you actually care about someone who is walking all over you sometimes the best thing to do is to get out. Let go and get out.
I would refuse this advice from people. I had a friend who was just going off the deep end. Completely lost. And I was fighting for them. My parents kept telling me to just let go. And I would get angry at them and yell at them saying I will not let my friend go. I care about them too much. I will fight for them. But the reality was that their advice was right all along. I wasn’t helping them by fighting for the person who didn’t want you to fight for them. I was just allowing myself to be taken down with them.
For so long in my life I was trying to control my friendships. I needed my friendships so much that I “wasn’t leaving space for God.” I was dependent on my friends for comfort. And when something would happen and the friendship parted ways I felt like there was nobody to turn to. And it was this deep lonesome pain that made me realize what I was missing all along.
In the “Christian circle” when people talk of marriage they always say that first and foremost that marriage needs to be centered on Christ. But that isn’t just true for dating relationships but all relationships. God should be the center. And for me I had just never done that. It was always about my care for them. Like I was the only one who truly did. I had never truly given my problems to God. I had never truly given my burden to Him. It took feeling so alone for me to realize I could turn to the One who was always with me. Who saw every pain that people had caused me. Who saw every wound I couldn’t let go of.
There was a friend that I couldn’t let go of. For a long time I just didn’t understand what had happened. And we hadn’t talked in months. And it killed me. And one night I just got down on my knees and prayed at my bed. And I hadn’t done a prayer like that since I was in elementary school. It was there on my knees that for the first time I asked God to help me let go of someone. The first time that I gave the problem to him. I was fighting so desperately for something out of my control. It took getting on my knees and giving up control for something to happen. There was this great weight lifted and I felt peace about it. The very next day out of the blue that person called me up to talk.
God cares about us.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
There is a quote that in so many ways changed my life. A simple perspective change.
“Love is giving up control. It’s giving up the desire to control the relationship. If we are serious about loving someone, we have to surrender all desires within us to manipulate the relationship. Think of God’s love.”-Rob Bell
Think of God’s love.
If you know someone who has a burden to carry and you have the means to help. Do so.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
You were never meant to deal with things alone. The Church (not the building, but Christians) is there to help. It is this openness that provides us with a way out.
In Colossians it is written:
“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
There is something beautiful about not having to carry your burden alone. There is something beautiful about letting the weight go.
“…because he cares about you.”
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Forgiveness at it’s core is letting go. It’s cutting the rope of the grudge that binds you to another person.
God say’s he’s got it. God says he will give you rest.
Let God control your burdens. Let God sort it out. Because God works ALL things for the good of those who love Him.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you cross rivers, you will not drown. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flames hurt you.” -Isaiah 43:2
“Lord, even when I have trouble all around me, you will keep me alive. When my enemies are angry, you will reach down and save me by your power.” Psalm 138:7
“I find rest in God; only he gives me hope.” Psalm 62:5
In the late 1800’s a man from Chicago named Horatio Spafford was planning a vacation for his family, his wife and four daughters. It was a boat trip to Europe. Spafford sent his family ahead of him as he had to stay and take care of last minute business. A few days had passed when he recieved a letter that his family’s boat had a collision and that all four of his daughters had drowned leaving only his wife. It was on the boat ride to pick up his wife that Spafford wrote these lyrics.
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
it is well,
it is well with my soul.
Let go. There is beauty in every mess. There is peace in every heartbreak. There is Light in every darkness.
There is freedom outside every cage.
It is well.
It is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul-Phil Wickham