I grew up a small-town-girl in northern California, where summers meant LAKE DAYS.
My family of six would all pile into our Expedition, boat towing behind with a friend or two typically squished into the extra seats.
Summers in the northern valley were always H-O-T and the promise of a visit to the cool waters of a nearby lake helped keep us sane.
Or mostly. We were kids and teens on summer vacation – exactly how much sanity could really be expected of us when we had no school or homework??
Our favorite part of boating at the lake was undoubtedly the tubing.
The only skill required was a resolve to white-knuckle those foam handles for dear life as you whizzed side to side behind the boat.
I am pretty sure my dad’s thrill of the day was evicting one or all of us passengers out of the three-seat tube. And he was pretty dang good at it.
He knew how to line us up just right so we’d hit the wake and be sent flying. So we each quickly developed our own technique for resisting the mighty splash. Which basically involved the tight handle grip I mentioned earlier.
As important as the whole “holding on” thing is when you’re in the tube, there’s another important piece of wisdom you must learn in tubing. While it may seem counter-productive to the first objective of staying on the tube, there is value in learning when to LET GO.
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It doesn’t take long to learn just-how-hard that smack to the water can be if you hold onto the tube for too long, or if your tube is sent flying higher than anyone anticipated.
And so you learn the art of letting go…
Before you hit that far-too-rough patch of water and have your head rattled around like a rag doll.
Before the impending tube-flip likely rams you into the next passenger.
And before the side of your face hits the waves and you involuntarily-swallow-half-your-weight-in-lake-water.
(Currently having a hard time remembering the fun part of tubing…)
You find the freedom that comes when you loosen your tight grip on the handles and let yourself experience a gentler fall into the lake.
You learn when the risk outweighs hanging on.
As real and necessary as it is to learn to hold on through the hard and often mundane moments in life, there are circumstances that instead call for us to let go.
Over these years of illness, one of the hardest things for me to let go of is the idea of my former self.
I’ve grieved the loss of the woman I once was. Or, perhaps more accurately: the woman I could be.
I miss the freedom of going, doing, and seeing as much as – and whenever – I wanted.
I think of the old dreams. My stamina. My work I loved as a nanny.
I long for renewed clarity of mind and the absence of crippling pain. I wish for the return of a normal nervous system to be able to enjoy community in ways that I used to.
It’s healthy and normal to grieve what’s been lost. It helps us process the pain and move forward to accept the moment we’re in now.
It helps us fully let go.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been learning the art of letting go. Finding freedom in some moments and facing hard struggles in others…I’m not gonna lie- it’s messy business.
In letting go of one thing, I’ve found we have to be willing and ready to grab hold of what’s next. To embrace something new.
For me, this means grabbing hold of new dreams, new aspirations, and my life as it is now. The me I am today.
I have never been a pillar of confidence, but going through this fire of disease has instilled some truths that I’m learning to accept: that I’m strong, resilient, loving, and passionate.
When I choose to accept those truths, I begin to believe in the purpose I have now. Not whenever I get better, but right here in this moment.
I see the healing that is taking place simply when I choose to let go of the things that no longer benefit me. The things that will only give me whiplash like those rough wakes out on the lake.
As I let go of old dreams, I am able to open my hands to grip onto new dreams. Dreams that are growing and shaping me as I stretch my fingers and heart in writing.
When I release the old expectations from my healthier years, I can begin to respect my current limitations and live within those. There is such freedom in that when I actually step into it.
I’m a work in progress and this isn’t easy. Grief is still present, my heart has broken and scarred places and I’M HUMAN.
This is not a one-and-done shop.
This is a process.
It takes finding good support that understands (or empathizes with) where you’re at.
It takes time. Patience. Kindness and grace.
It’s taking leaning on God and trusting that he’s got this.
It takes being gentle with yourself. You’re only human, too.
If you’re reading this today and you have this nagging thought of something in your life that’s been holding you back from healing, or loving or embracing your gifts…
Maybe it’s time to let go of the foam handles
and swim in the lake.