Finding Purpose Through Letting Go
It was one of the scariest days of my life. I had worked hard for this dream. I was finally living my dream. And yet, I felt that quiet nudge to let it go. To release my grip. To trust that God would replace the dream I was letting go of with a new dream. A new purpose. A new sense that I am living the life I was meant to live.
Sometimes what we need to release our grip on isn't a dream. Maybe what we need to release our grip on is a person or a relationship. Maybe it's a job or a house. Maybe it's food (don't get me started on the gluten issue) or a way of living.
That was three years ago. And about 5 years ago, God was nudging me to let go. To trust Him with my dreams. To step bravely in the direction of obedience not knowing what was ahead.
The problem. I was fearful. Who would I be without the dream "I" worked so hard to accomplish. Would God be faithful to replace that blessing with an even better plan? So I sat tight. I kept keeping on. Until...
Until I noticed a holy discontent with that dream I was clinging to so tightly. Until I was ready for a new direction. Until I was ready to choose obedience over comfort. Until I was ready to find purpose in following God instead of the things I did or the position I held.
What I learned from that time in my life? Our greatest sense of a purpose-filled life is sometimes found in the letting go. Letting go of expectations. Letting go of our rights. Letting go of the notion that we need to make our dreams happen so God can give new dreams in the middle of our everyday lives.
As I trace that moment three years ago until today, I realize I've never felt more purpose-filled than I do today. The letting go was the best decision I ever made. Is it anything like I expected when I said yes to God and no to white-knuckling it? NO. Is it more rewarding than I ever imagined? YES.
In some ways, I'm living some things I expected. I set out to start a coaching company. I am blessed with amazing individual and group coaching clients. Step by step, I'm achieving my goals.
In other ways, it's nothing like I expected. If you had asked me if I would be an online copywriter and web designer on the side of coaching, I would have given you the sign that you were a little crazy.
But you know what? I love that part of my life too. I love helping small business owners hone their marketing message and communicating how they can help the world to the world. I love using my writing gifts to help others succeed.
And when it comes down to it...I love the life God had waiting for me. The real part of that? I needed to let go of something good to find what suited me better.
So what about you? Maybe what God is nudging you to let go of isn't a job. Maybe it's that need to hold onto a friendship that is entering a new phase. A home that you can no longer afford. A food item (ahem) that is no longer serving you. The need to be right in an argument. Whatever it is, I'm confident that if God is nudging you to let go, He has something better once you do.
Getting Started with Letting Go
So how do you and I start this letting go? I know from personal experience that it's not easy. Letting go is the hard work of grieving what you had while trusting God for a unknown future. Letting go is a courageous act of faith as you say goodbye so you can say hello. So here's a few tips from a fellow white-knuckling sister.
1. Ask yourself a question...
It all starts with a question.
“How is that thing you’re holding onto serving you in the life you want to live? ”
It what you are clinging to so tightly really helping you or hurting you. Could letting go create some space for God to work? In the example of my gluten issue, I can eat gluten. My sinuses get stuffed up. My stomach get bloated. And if it goes on for too long, my ears fill up with fluid. It's all uncomfortable, but manageable.
Here's the problem. It's not serving my quest for a healthy life. I don't feel good. I don't want to exercise. And overall, it's not benefiting my health.
Maybe your thing isn't food, maybe it's a position that will make you feel you've finally arrived. A relationship you've always wanted. Whatever it is, sometimes we hold on because we attached a significance to it. I believe that God is not about taking things away but helping us find our significance and purpose in Him.
2. Choosing obedience over comfort
I don't know about you, but sometimes I white knuckle something because it's the way I've been doing things. The thing I'm clinging to? That's the known. I know what to expect and what I'm getting. Letting go means stepping into the unknown. Losing control over the outcome. Having the courage to rest in obedience.
I'm currently preparing to speak at my church in a few weeks on Christmas. For my preparation, I came across the story of the angel telling Joseph what to name Jesus when He was born. The author of the book I'm studying remarked that in Jewish culture, it was the father's right to name the baby. It was expected. The angel asks Joseph to let go and embrace the idea that God would name the baby. Joseph complies, let's go of his rights, and names the baby Jesus.
The author then wrote something profound to me. When you and I insist on our rights and comfort over obedience to God, it's like we're insisting on naming the baby Jesus.
In the end, God is more interested in the state of hearts over what we do and what we have. Letting go can be part of the process of learning to choose God over things. To choose loving God over status and position. To choose trust over having all our ducks in a row.
3. Trust the process
If it were easy, you would have done it already. Letting go is hard. Letting go includes grieving that thing you had. The life you had dreamed of. The job that was your dream. That friendship that was local and present. That piece of pizza.
Just like grieving a person, grieving the thing you're letting go of can be healthy and refining and leave you real and vulnerable. It may take time to get there when it comes to the actual letting go. Don't be afraid to sit in the middle where it's messy and not all together.
Choose to sit with it. To not have all the answers. And trust God as He walks you through the process. And while you're at it, spend some time talking to Him about the fact that it's hard and you don't want to but you want to love Him more than you want to love the thing (insert gluten here).
Here's what I've learned along my journey. Sometimes the thing we are clinging to is the very thing that's getting in our way. In our way of deepening our relationship with God. In the way of us living with purpose and meaning in our everyday lives. In the way of living your life wholly and authentically.
Letting go is to choose faith over fear, obedience over comfort, and the promise of what's ahead over today. Letting go is one brave step toward your future with God. And whatever that thing, God is waiting on the path to take you to your next hello.