It was early September and I had been rushing through the student center to get to the bookstore so that I could pick up a rental book for my online English Literature class. I happened to be upset about some things going on in my life, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t on the verge of tears. I really just wanted to grab my book and go back to eating food and avoiding my problems—something in which I happen to be an expert.
Except, of course, that wouldn’t be what happened because I ran into the first and last person I wanted to talk to about anything. Naturally, after making eye-contact, I couldn’t just pretend like I didn’t see her, and besides, I really did want to talk with her, and I’d be lying if I said anything else.
She knew a majority of what I was [probably] feeling because she just knows me like that, so she really didn’t need me to talk that much—which was good because like I said I didn’t want to talk all that much.
Friends, I really hope you have a friend that tells you things the way they are and not the way you want them to be.
My friend helped me remove myself from the situation that I was in and think about it from an outsider’s perspective. She helped me realize that most things in life don’t last forever, and there eventually comes a point in most relationships, in most friendships, in which you have to let go.
I hated that. I immediately rejected what she said because I hated the idea of letting go; letting go made me feel like I was giving up, and that’s just not who I am as a person. I’m not the kind of person that gives up easily; I like to think I’m relentless in that way—especially when it comes to people.
I think this week I learned the difference between giving up and letting go. Here’s the thing: giving up is just that: giving up. It’s throwing in the towel and accepting defeat. When a person gives up, they are acknowledging that they can’t win. Giving up requires us to stop believing that we can have victory. Letting go isn’t like this at all.
When we let go, we aren’t accepting defeat; we’re choosing not to allow defeat to affect our belief.
Think about it like this:
When I was in high school, I played the clarinet in the marching and concert band. I knew this one chick who appeared to want to do well in the band. This girl came to most of the practices and seemed to put the effort in where necessary. However, when chair try-outs came around and she didn’t get the first chair position, she quit the band and she left. She gave up.
There was another girl in the band who was in a similar situation; except she didn’t quit the band after she didn’t get the chair she thought she would. She decided to stay in the band and try harder next time, and for the time she had to wait, she would practice and do her best in the position she was placed. She let go.
Letting go means to let go of the situation that you’re in and still believe in yourself in the end. Letting go doesn’t mean you have to give up on someone [even if that someone is yourself].
That was the hard part for me because I didn’t understand that there was a distinct difference between letting go and giving up.
For a long time, I think, I was unable to accept the fact that I needed to let go of this situation because I felt like I was giving up and not just letting go.
But I think that there’s a beauty in letting go that I couldn’t recognize before now.
We aren’t meant to hold on to things forever; this world is temporary, and to hold onto its contents like they are an eternity in a temporary world is only a disservice to ourselves. If it is of the world, it is temporary as the world is temporary.
2 Corinthians 4:18
“while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
I have a tendency to hold onto the things of the world like they’ll be able to join me in eternity; like they aren’t remnants of a temporal world. Letting go is a part of life; things are meant to change and we are meant to move on from them.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
letting go is to freedom; as giving up is to captivity.
We aren’t meant to give up; we’re meant to let go.
I remember the fear I felt that day in the student center as my friend was holding my hands, reassuring me that the world around me would not crumble if I let it go. I remember the thoughts that swirled around my frantic mind as I wondered if she was right; would the fabric that held the universe together tear apart if I let go? But it wasn’t letting go that I was afraid of—it was giving up. And I’m not giving up—I know that now.
I remember her words— they were Proverbs 27:9 kinda words . . . “you can let go without giving up, caitie,” she said. I know what that means now.
even my favorite fictional character, Meredith Grey, has some words on letting go that I can appreciate, “letting go is the easy part, it’s the moving on that’s painful. So sometimes we fight it, try and keep things the same. Things can’t stay the same though. At some point, you just have to let go. Move on. Because no matter how painful it is, it’s the only way we grow.”
let go—it’s how we grow.
Go ahead, throw in the towel—but pick it up again. That’s what it means to let go.
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