This morning at mass I spoke with a gentleman who told me about a Friar down in Seaside that is 89 years old. He is full of life, bubbly and energetic and to top it all off he looks fifty. He asked him what his secret was and the Friar responded, “it’s quite simple “I NEVER LOOK BACK” too many people get stuck by always looking back. I won’t allow that to happen. The past is the gone, over, kaput you can’t go back and you can’t change anything so why hold on? Let it go and move on.”
These are very wise words, and they got me to think about my life and the areas in my life that I hold onto the past. One of the biggest areas for me is when I don’t listen to myself then have regret. You know what I mean, when you do something really foolish, and you knew better. Making poor decision and choices that may negatively affect the ones you love or yourself. We get stuck saying, “I wish I…” or “I should have….”and on and on we think about it as though there is something we could do about it and we can’t. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve, but DIDN’T. Right now, I can hear my granddaughter breaking into the Frozen song “Let it go.”
I realized something very important just this morning. Poor choices, bad decisions, regrets, mistakes they’re all apart of being alive. They represent growth, change and humility. I also don’t believe that God is going to point His finger at us in the way that we imagine in our heads. As long as we are trying to do our best, correct and learn from our mistakes I think He will look at us with love and charity. We have to make mistakes or how will we learn? If I didn’t make poor choices in my life how would I know to make smart ones? If I didn’t suffer through the rejections in my life, I never would have looked for something new or tried to do better.
Getting stuck in life’s circumstances is an uncomfortable place to be, and usually the reason we get stuck is because we are afraid to make a change afraid to let go. A Deacon in our Scripture study last week said this about fear, “fear means run and hide or face and rise.” It’s interesting how every time fear is involved it holds us down like an anchor, and we begin to drown slowly. We spend a lot of time flailing ourselves to keep a float instead of cutting the anchor off and swimming to shore.
There have been two things that I have learned about letting go and I will share them with you. One is to forgive yourself for allowing whatever it was to happen to you then forgive the other person for hurting you. I remember a friend of mine who lost two children within nine months of each other share how much she blamed God for the death of her two children. She used to scream at God and ask Him what else He was going to take from her. She would taunt, “Go ahead I dare you!!”
Over time, she had a conversion and began to feel regret for all the anger towards God she held on to all of those years. In a special prayer, she shared this regret with God and remembered hearing him speak to her heart. He said, “it’s okay that you were angry with me I could take it. Your children were only supposed to be with you for the time that they were and no longer. Even though you yelled at me in anger during that time you never stopped talking to me.” This experience helped her to let completely go, and now God never stops giving her opportunities to witness her story to other mother’s who have lost children. She says, “Dawn you won’t believe where, when and how he uses me. People come to me in the most unusual places from my real estate office to a party, a bar, a restaurant, etc.
The second way I learned to let go is by keeping my focus on the present, and I do that with the help of being grateful and praising God for my blessings. When I wake, I find reasons to thank him in my morning prayers and at night I reflect and do the same before retiring to sleep. I found that it was through praise in our darkest moments that God picks us up and carries us to the green pastures of his riches. It is only through the surrender that we truly release ourselves into his care. When God can work, and we can grow and look back at our past and smile recalling how that experience brought us to where we are today that is better.
I used these few techniques in my young adult group that helped them to let go of situations in their lives and perhaps you will too. If you have a fire pit in your backyard or a fireplace, write down your fears onto slips of paper then burn them in a symbolic ritual of letting go. The smoke will represent your prayerful intention rising to heaven into the care of God. You also might try getting yourself some helium filled balloons. Writing on each one with a marker what you’re holding onto, say a prayer and release the balloon to God in heaven taking the burden of holding on off of you. However, you choose to let go just do it freeing yourself to be the best you were meant to be. Please feel free to share your results with us here in the comment box.