Approaching life with open hands can be a difficult thing. It’s like the toddler who desperately clenches his fist around a penny while his father offers him treasure of far greater value.
“But it’s my penny. I want it.”
Now there’s nothing wrong with the penny, but this stubborn child has no idea of the true riches before him. Imagine that his father not only lavishes him with love and affection, he also meets every need, he is faithful, he protects his son, and he dreams bigger dreams than the boy can fathom.
“Son, give Daddy the penny. I have something better for you.”
“No! I want it. It’s mine!”
So he kicks and screams and throws a full-blown tantrum, not understanding the heart of his father, nor trusting that his father is good.
I think that’s me sometimes. Perhaps it’s all of us.
I was reading a book by Nancy Guthrie today and came across this statement.
“The truth is, eventually, we will let go of everything in this life. Life is a constant barrage of having things and people we love ripped away from us…. leaving us raw and stinging with pain. But when we recognize that everything we have and everyone we love is on loan to us from God, when we we learn to hold loosely to the things and people we love, we can then embrace the freedom that comes from entrusting everything to his care.”
Well, I’ve been thinking about “letting Jon go” over the last couple months, and at first I wasn’t sure what that actually meant for me. I’ve processed so much over the last year, so I didn’t know what was left. I had already said, “God my hands are open. Take him. Take all my hopes and dreams. They’re yours.” And I meant it.
But I suppose, as with grief, letting go is also a process. Perhaps it is really just continual surrender. Yeah, I think so. My penny starts to seem beautifully alluring, and therein lies the temptation to tighten my fingers around it. For me, the penny is comprised of dreams like being a wife again, being cherished and adored, being held.
You see, God had brought someone else into my life, an incredible man who didn’t run from a woman with grief. The prospect of loving and being loved by another man was again on the horizon! It seemed that mine would be the story of Job, or better yet Ruth. I fully thought that God was “giving it all back.” I was ridiculously excited.
Now before I go on, you must know that this romantic relationship is no longer happening. And you should also know that this man is godly, honorable, and handled things with exceptional grace. I have nothing but good to say. Four months together was not purposeless or arbitrary. Rather, they made me face letting go.
It’s a deep, deep thing to enter into a new relationship after the death of a spouse. A lot of grieving happens first. And as I found out, some crazy, unexpected sorrow and the need to process it happens within.
But here are some things I realized.
I know I’m able to love again. I am able to give love freely to another person who is not Jon. That’s a beautiful thing to treasure.
I learned also to surrender what I thought should happen and when I thought it should happen.
I saw that relationships still take mutual grace and forgiveness.
I learned to remind myself that Jon was not perfect. We had our ups and downs. He failed me and I failed him. Yes, he really was wonderful, but I had to remember that I can’t over romanticize him, nor turn my memories of him into idealistic fantasies.
I learned that letting Jon go does not mean I love him less. It does not mean I don’t still cherish the memories. It does not mean that he is not still part of me. It does not mean that I have to remove all my pictures of him. But it does mean that grieving him is no longer tyranny. Life is ahead, not behind.
Finally, I’m willing to be loved in an entirely different manner than the way Jon loved me. Believe me, that was a big one. Lots of turmoil. Lots of processing to get there. For letting myself being loved differently means letting go of his personality, his quirks, his lavish affection, his extravagant words of praise, his silliness, his excitement. The implications are huge. For it means having realistic expectations. It means being excited that someone else could be totally opposite.
The lessons are exponential.
The last crossroads is much more significant, however, because it also involves surrender to not be loved at all. I admit, my first reaction to “breaking up” (dumb, dumb words) was anger. “What the heck are you doing to me God? Haven’t I had enough?”
But I’m thankful God always draws me back, reminding me that life is about His kingdom and His plan. After some needed repentance, I stand with open hands saying, “God, if being a widow is your plan for me, then it is good.” Even if He takes my penny never to return it, He is still good. His grace is still marvelous. It’s true though. Letting go of desires, people, and things is continual. I’m sure I’ll keep learning to hold them loosely, and to openmy hands for God to take them.
For I am already more loved, cherished, and adored than I can understand. Letting go of my penny means knowing that Jesus’ love for me IS enough. It’s also knowing that He is the treasure of infinite value. He wants to give me something better. Himself. Because of what Christ has accomplished for me on the cross and through His resurrection, I can know the sweet, sweet freedom of trusting Him.
I’ll stop kicking and screaming, Here’s my grubby, little hand open to you.