Letting go is not giving up.
Whenever I begin to write, the first sentence is often the hardest. It’s about taking a deep breath, letting go and a whole lot of trust. If I say nothing else, write not another word and end it here have I said all I really need to say. Have I said anything you need to hear? Have I said anything worth remembering? Can I let it go? Can you let it go?
So, if I end it here and let go of everything else will you know what I wanted to say. Will you walk away having learned something about me, something about yourselves, something about our commitment to be followers of Jesus? I wonder. Perhaps, to get to the answer, we need to do just that “let go.” There’s a saying in the rooms of Recovery: “Let go and let God.” Easy enough to say, and it takes a lot of trust to do.
I’m don’t know a great many things, but one thing life has taught me is that in order to get from one place to another we need to let go. It starts at birth letting go of the comfort and security of our mother’s womb and ends at death – perhaps the ultimate letting go.
I walked away from last week’s homily asking myself the question “what do I need to do to gain eternal life?”
Perhaps it’s just that simple: let go! Oh, if it were only that easy! Something must be getting in the way.
In Mark 10:35-45 Jesus asks what sounds like a pretty straight forward question “what do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks us that question a million time a day if we’re listening and often it’s followed up with “do you have any idea of what you’re asking? Can you do what it takes? I can picture the disciples jumping up and down, arms waving shouting: “yes, we can – yes we can.”
Not missing a beat Jesus responds: “are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering.” Yes, we can Jesus…yes, we can. But what I don’t recall hearing is anyone asking is “Jesus, how do we do that?
Hey, Jesus, how do we do that? And again not missing a beat Jesus responds: “I told you that last week people…weren’t you listening to the gospel, did you hear the homily…I thought I made myself perfectly clear… let go of your stuff and trust that I’ve got your back.
The problem with letting go is that …well just what is the problem with letting go. In its simplest form it means dealing with stuff that isn’t easy and if it’s not easy why bother. If it’s not easy, I’ll just stay stuck. If it’s not easy, I’ll simply take my chances and keep doing the same old thing.
We only make the process of letting go harder when we focus on what we perceive to be difficult and painful. Suffering doesn’t necessarily mean painful…who wants to be in pain. Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Indeed, letting go can be unpleasant and often we find ourselves wondering what will fill that empty space once I have let go of my old beliefs and misconceptions that were holding me back and keeping me from being the person God intends me to be.
Humor me a little longer and let’s wallow in our misery a bit so we can look up from our whatever and say “oh poor me.” We’re human and sometimes we like to feel sorry for ourselves – why sometimes it even feels good, doesn’t it? And we wonder why it’s so hard to let it go.
Suffering, if we survive it, if we stick with letting it go, if we crawl out from under it, can teach us compassion, promote solidarity and expand our consciousness. Suffering or letting go, intensifies our thirst for justice and strengthens us for service. It enables us to look beyond ourselves and ask “how can I be truly happy if others are suffering?”
If we are strong, we’re honor bound to protect the weak bearing in mind that more often than not our self-sacrifice will place us in continual jeopardy and danger. Even the slightest mote of conscience can turn care free ignorance into uncomfortable awareness and empathetic suffering. Buda wasn’t kidding when he said “all of life is suffering.”
Right now, if I cried out “Hey Jesus” he might cry out “Hey you guess what: “following me presupposes an embrace of suffering in the service of compassion.” The “Suffering Servant” passage in Isaiah inspired the very core of how Jesus lived in the world and how we too are to live in the world. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. This is what it means to live a Jesus Centered life. This is what it means to walk in the way of love. This is what happens when we let go and let God.
When we let go, in spite of the suffering, in spite of the difficulty, in spite of the uncertainty we begin to take care of ourselves and in turn each other.
We begin listening to our inner voice and asking ourselves what makes me angry? What have I had enough of? What don’t I trust? What doesn’t feel right.
What can’t I stand? What makes me uncomfortable? What do I want? What do I need? What do I like? What don’t I want and need. What do I like? What would feel good?
If I’ve written anything worth remembering, I hope that it’s that letting go, that walking in the way of love is a process of recovery, a process of renewal in our relationship with Jesus, ourselves and all of humanity. It’s where we learn that self-care leads us on the path to God’s will and plan for our life. It’s where we learn that the voice that comes from deep within us is God’s voice. Learn to nurture that voice, to trust it, to trust yourself.
We are wiser than we think. We can do this. When we walk in the way of love, when we live a Jesus centered life, when we let go and let God…we’ll know with certainty our guide is within, ever-present, always willing to share our suffering, cheering us as we learn to let go.
Hey Jesus, I’m doing the best I can.
You’re doing just fine.