let go or be dragged

CameraZOOM-20120109193300060i ran across this american proverb a while back & then a dear friend gave it to me on a magnet for christmas:  “let go or be dragged.”

it is so appropriate in more ways than one, and now i see it first thing every morning when i get creamer for my coffee.

i need the reminder.

as a parent, as a leader, as a friend, as someone healing from woundedness, one of the greatest gifts we can learn is the art of “letting go”.  letting go doesn’t mean giving up.  it doesn’t mean not caring.  it doesn’t mean not being engaged or connected.  but it does mean taking our grip off of things so tightly.

it means learning how to be less codependent.

it means trusting God is at work in ways we can’t see.

it means respecting our limitations.

it means practicing becoming better human beings.

it means being very aware of how much power we give to things in the past or the present that we have absolutely no control of.

when i think of church woundedness, “let go or be dragged” comes to mind.  when i was hanging on so tightly to the past, i was the one suffering. i was the one pissed off. i was the one in misery.  the people & systems who hurt me were perfectly fine. they had moved on but i couldn’t seem to. i was being dragged around by them even though they weren’t even doing the dragging!

when i think of parenting teens, it is also oh-so-appropriate.  i personally think parenting is one of the trickiest spiritual & personal formation opportunities in our lives. it is butt-kicking sometimes, just how easy it is to get hooked in to unhealthy, nutty dynamics as a parent.  there are times when i am trying so hard not to get sucked in and next thing i know, boom, i’m being dragged all kinds of places i never intended to go.

when i think of leadership, in whatever shape or form some of us might find ourselves in, this thought is a helpful guide.  the struggle with people-pleasing is real for many of us, even if we don’t want to admit it.  we care when people criticize.  we take things more personally than we should.  we can’t stand it when people disapprove or disagree.  one of the biggest learnings of 2011 for me was practicing the art of letting go as a leader.  of realizing that there are so many things beyond my control and i have to trust God & people & the bigger story instead of operating out of a place of desperation or fear.

when i think of journeying with people in the midst of hard stuff, this is also critical.  learning what’s our responsibility and what’s another person’s is really difficult when a lot of pain & struggle is involved.  gaining greater understanding of our responsibilities & also limitations is a skill that requires God’s tangible help and active-spirit-at-work-showing-us-the-way.

so this year i am going to keep practicing what it means to let go.  to take my white-knuckled-grip off-of-all-kinds-of-things-that-i-can’t-really-control-anyway-even-though-i-think-i-can.  to stay engaged & present & “in” without getting yanked and dragged into all kinds of places i don’t need to go.

what about you? what do you need to let go of this year?

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

21 Comments

  • Oh, thank you, I just put those 2 words on my computer at work. Responsibility-Limitations.
    It is really hard to look into someone’s eyes (yesterday it was someone’s 2 black eyes and bloody lip) and say I can’t personally help you. Altho sometimes I stick to my limitations and then feel a nagging guilt. I guess I need to work on that somehow.

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    • oh it is so hard in-the-trenches, but also so important for those two words that you wrote on your computer. may God help show us the way!

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  • Love, love, love, the post. In the grand scheme of things, “letting go” is an act of beauty but it’s an art of discernment in surrendering in the present moment. Great stuff, Kath.

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    • thanks my friend, i like how you say it’s an act of beauty & an art of discernment. so good.

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  • Great post! Definitely working on letting go and realizing He has things under control.

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  • Wow. I needed this today. I have come smack up against the reality of the stained-glass ceiling in the last week or so. Sadly, in a sideways, not-direct-to-my-face sort of way. I am trusting God to guide me in the balance of not running away and not hitting back. Hmm…just standing my ground for now….and letting go of taking in their view of me and their role for me. Letting go of the desire to defend myself and just relaxing and continuing to just be….

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    • thanks for sharing, it stinks to be smacked with reality but you have such good perspective on it. it makes me think of the 4 things a friend once shared as advice from her therapist. all we can really do is: 1. show up, 2. tell the truth, 3. trust God, 4. let go of the outcome. oh that is way easier said than done and not meant to be trite or simplify anything but your comment made me think of it. i have to draw upon it all of the time, especially in the tension of wanting to hit back or run away.

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  • Thanks for the timely advice. I’m currently dealing with having to let go of a relationship that failed, and wherein I was hurt. Sometimes in the past I’ve held onto that sort of thing, and got drug as a result. Reading your post caused me to make a small change to how I approached that situation.

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    • thanks so much for sharing, ed. i like what you said about how we can make “a small change”. so often we expect out of ourselves & others big massive changes instead of valuing the small ways we can unhook from unhealthiness.

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  • Ah, what a great thought: let go or be dragged. For me, I feel like shame and despair and negative self-talk has just been beating the #@!% out of me, and I am just tired. It is exhausting to unlearn deeply ingrained beliefs, but even worse, to be so frustrated with not learning new things at a comparable rate. What I am trying to lean into this season is a letting go of sorts, or a relinguishing of that desperate sense of control. The scary part is that while being dragged suuuucks, the actual letting go requires something stable to cling to. *That* is what I am growing closer to doing, day by freaking slow day. 😉

    Also, Convergence!!!

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    • oh, the capital C word–control. we’re going to talk about that tomorrow night, i’ll give you the cliff notes.

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  • I’ve been getting dragged and the first day I read your blog…this. I’m letting go. Thank you!

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  • Reading this immediately made me think of the “Walking Wounded” workshop. I’m really glad I was there.

    An old guy I knew a long time ago told me “If you really want to hurt someone, study them for awhile. Figure out what will make them really mad, what they won’t forget, then do it to them. It will eat a hole in them for the rest of their life. The hole will get bigger every year.”

    His real point was that if someone has done this to you, just let it go. As you say, let it go or it will drag you (forever). I’ve done this several times and it is so freeing! What I didn’t expect is that when the people who did me wrong figured out I had let it go, they were royally pissed that their nastiness didn’t work. Chuckle, chuckle.

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    • yeah, it’s always so interesting how we’re the one who are suffering and other people are fine. or, in this other scenario, how when we let go, it can really make people mad!

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  • I relate to all the above. For my daughter’s 18th birthday’ we gave her “no more rules.”. Almost killed me but our relationship has improved dramatically…she is not dragging me along behind her anymore. Thanks for this post. letting go is not easy for me but I know I can not grab hold of what is next until I let go of what is past.

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  • Wonderfully said and this so helped me realize that I’m being dragged and need to let go so the Lord can do his amazing work. I’m holding on to what I think the direction of my business should go and not where He is leading me! Thank you for taking time to write this post, I know it takes tons of time!

    Ruthie

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  • Good post, Kathy. I didn’t understand the title at first. However, I understand better after I read it carefully. Pleasing people is an issue for most women, care-givers, teachers, church leaders, etc. We want people to be better, but we want to please them, too. A paradox at times. I am hoping that in 2012 I will let go of working FOR people and learn to work WITH people, taking the time to enjoy the journey, too. Today, I am not doing what would please a friend who is hosting a large conference in the city. She feels I should be there with her. But I am recovering from a bad infection, and I need this day to recuperate and renew. I am going to let go of feeling guilty that I am not performing to my friend’s expectations. If I don’t let go, I am going to be dragged down with guilt and condemnation. And that’s not why Jesus came.

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