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Letting Go

Written By Renée Miller

Sarah McLachlan sings, “I have the sense to recognize that I don't know how to let you go.”

We can so easily find ourselves entrenched in things that aren't really healthy for us. Yet, when we try to step away—to get a better perspective, to choose a different path, to make a more nourishing choice in life—we find that we’re unwilling to let go of the very thing that keeps us from that better perspective, that different path, that nourishing choice.

It's as if our soul is unwilling to claim the very thing that it needs the most.  It might be our fiercely held opinions that keep us from being open to what others might have to offer.  It might be a lie that we've been telling ourselves that seems dearer than the truth.  It might be patterns of eating, drinking, sleeping, exercise that have become so habitual that we no longer give any awareness or attention to our body's shy simpers. It might be our treatment of those we love that has about as much tenderness at the hard shell of a walnut.  Why, when we know that freedom and energy stand just on the other side of letting go, are we so unwilling to take the steps to release what binds us?

The standard response is that we stay stuck in unhealthy patterns either because we just don't want to do the hard work of changing, or because we fear change more than the misery that has become so comfortable to us.  While either of those responses may be true, I have the feeling that it is even more basic.  I think it is just that we don't know how to let go. In trying to avoid the pain of loss, we cast about looking for a way that will minimize the sadness of letting go—that will decrease the scratchy desire that letting go leaves behind.  When we can't seem to identify a way to do that, Sarah McLachlan's words ring true, “I have the sense to recognize that I don't know how to let you go.”  In just that moment of recognition, we can be surprised to find that heaven opens a window and rains down a shower of tenderness.  We just might feel a blanket of courage floating down over us, and we might  take the first step toward a freer self.