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The gift of truly letting go

Last month, I wrote of my sadness that bluebirds had not built a nest in our bluebird house for over two years. In early spring, I went through a series of disappointments each time a pair of bluebirds explored our birdhouse but didn’t stay. Then God gave me another perspective. Instead of bemoaning the fact that no bluebirds had come to stay, I needed to rejoice at seeing five pair of bluebirds up close as they were exploring the birdhouse. And I vowed to myself to let go of my disappointment over what I didn’t have and rejoice in what I did have. So I released my hopes to God and thanked God for the gifts I had received. I simply let go of my expectations.

Within two weeks of writing last month’s article, another pair of bluebirds began exploring our birdhouse. I remembered my promise to simply enjoy them without worrying whether they would stay. With God’s help I was able to let go of my expectations and appreciate the gift each time I saw them. Within a week, it was clear that this pair of bluebirds was beginning to build. John and I have been watching them fly in and out of that bird house ever since. How ironic that when I finally let go of my hopes and gave them to God to answer or not answer according to his wisdom, I received what I had been hoping for. I am most thankful. It is such a joy to catch glimpses of those beautiful birds.

There is a temptation in this experience though. It is the temptation to believe that if I just let go of something and give it to God, then God will make it happen. It is the temptation to treat “letting go” as a silver bullet to get what I want. But if I “let go” just so God will give me what I want, is that really letting go? I think not. If we only let go of something in order to get what we want, we are not letting go, but rather using “letting go” as manipulative tool.

Truly letting go involves truly letting go, not just in our words, but with our hearts. Letting go includes trusting both God’s provision and timing, and believing that God’s wisdom is better than our own. It also encompasses rejoicing in the gifts we have received, rather than bemoaning those we have not. Letting go involves living in the present rather than some future day that may or may not come. Truly letting go is saying something like this to God: “Lord, you know my hopes and dreams. I release them to you. I trust that you will bring about those hopes you know to be best in the timing you know to be best, and will not bring into being those hopes that would be hurtful to me or others. Help me to live in the present–to see and enjoy the gifts of this day–rather than focusing my heart on a yet unrealized hope and lamenting it. Help me have faith to trust my hopes to you. Amen.”

May God give us courage to let go, not just of simple things like bluebirds, but of all things in our lives, so that we may see and enjoy the gifts of each day. Amen and amen.

Pastor Diann O’Bryant is minister of Gilman United Methodist Church, 312 Gilman St., Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Stephanie Ward at 740-373-2121 ext. 537, or sward@mariettatimes.com. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer’s convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.

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