The peace and healing that comes from being gentle with ourselves

Learning the Art of Letting Go

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.

Letting go of old dreams and grabbing hold of new ones

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.

The Art of Letting 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.

Embracing the present moment

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16 comments

  1. Kim says:

    Love this Kami! I’m in the process of letting some things go as well. It’s hard. But it seems like keeping a tight grip on those foam handles is keeping me from reaching out to better things. I needed these words today. Thank you!

    • Kami says:

      Hi Kim! Boy is that true – this letting go business is HARD. Just about the time I feel I’ve finally let go of a specific fear or feeling that holds me back, I seem to be met with another exercise in learning. I’m glad I’m not the only one who can relate to this! Praying for you as you step out in courage and let go of your own foam handles. Much love to you!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Beautifully written Kami. I of course can relate to many of the things you have written here. I had my life planned out, or at least an idea of what it was supposed to be about, before my life got turned upside down. It’s a very hard aspect to accept but I have to lean and trust that there is a bigger purpose, that God knows what He’s doing and that he has not abandoned us. Again, not easy.

    • Kami says:

      Thank you, sweet Stephanie. I feel you in that this is not an easy task. Letting go of plans and timelines that I once had has been so very difficult. It’s a grieving process, truly. Those ideas and dreams and plans were deeply rooted and pulling them out from under me was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. It’s taking me time to form new dreams and pursue new plans. I’m learning grace has been the biggest thing getting me through this! Reminding myself that I’m only human and big changes like this take a lot of trying and self-kindness. Learning to trust God right along with you, friend. Sending you a big hug!

  3. Beth says:

    It’s this very battle I am facing this week. My neurologic lyme has left me markedly different and unable to shed my wheelchair, cane, and days in the bed. I had hoped that the treatments would help and instead it looks like I may be in for a long marathon. Fighting to grip the life I had and grieving over the loss, I finally resolved that I must accept where I am and not expect change so that I can live in the new normal without constant let downs. I needed to hear this so much today! Thank you for candidly sharing your journey. I pray for you also -that God will bless and encourage you in your new normal.

    • Kami says:

      Hi Beth. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. Reading a bit about your story tugged at familiar heartstrings and I’m thinking about you today. The let downs on this journey with Lyme are very real and heavy. There came a time where I reached a similar resolution as you – to accept that this is where I’m at right now. Finding a healthy balance of hoping for healing and having realistic expectations has been one of the biggest ways I’ve been able to find more peace. It doesn’t mean we’re without the let downs, but the fall sure is much more manageable than when I had a specific timeline I was clinging to. Thank you for sharing your own struggle here with us. I appreciate your honesty. Sending you a hug and saying a prayer for you today as you battle on. <3

  4. PamalaLee Lane says:

    Dear Kami,
    This touched my heart so much that it brought tear’s to my eye’s! I am not sure where God want’s to lead me in this Chronic Pain Syndrome that I have, but your truth’s of what you are going through is helping me to remember to trust in God in ALL THING’S! Thank you so much, I am looking forward to more of your writing’s. Love, Pamala

    • Kami says:

      Hi Pamala! Thanks so much for reading and sharing here. It has taken me a lot of time and struggle to get to this starting point of accepting new dreams and learning to trust that God can still give me purpose in this life of illness. It’s a hard battle! I’m humbled and so glad this could encourage you in your own journey. Much love to you!

  5. Brittany W says:

    Letting go can be so hard for me because it gets framed as failure a lot. I have to remind myself that letting go isn’t a failure, but holding onto things (people, situations, etc) after they don’t fit your life anymore CAN be a failure.

    • Kami says:

      I struggle with viewing it as failure, too. But what you said is so true…holding onto the things that no longer fit can take so much from us. Thanks for sharing that you face this too! It’s comforting being reminded that we aren’t alone in these struggles. <3

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