Monday, January 14, 2013

Letting Go

It was March 2, 2012, the day of my grandfather's funeral. Poppy, who was ninety-six had passed away peacefully a few days earlier. We had just left the cemetery after the graveside service. I was in the car with my husband when we pulled into the driveway of my grandparents' house that they had lived in my entire life. I’d lived right next door to them during my 3rd through 5th grade years of school. In fact, my family lived with them in this house for a short time while we were waiting for our new house to be built.

Minutes before, I had learned that the house and most of the property had been sold. Our family had about thirty days to move everything out of it before the new family would be moving in.

Emotions came crashing in my heart as I saw Poppy's tractor sitting there just like it had been for my whole life. It was probably a newer tractor. But he had always had a tractor for as long as I could remember. 

I walked around that day trying to take in the reality of what was happening. As I looked out over my grandparents' property my aunt's words resonated in my heart.

"It's a chapter coming to an end."

She was having a hard time with all the sudden change. Seeing my brother and me walking around soaking in the memories that were created on that land was more than she could take. With teary eyes, she walked away and went inside the house.
As hard as it was to face the reality of a chapter of my life being over, I knew I needed to face it head on.

This reminds me of a memory I have of my father pulling a splinter out of my foot. I was terrified of the pain. I would’ve done anything to avoid it. But my daddy—in his wisdom—knew that the splinter needed to be dealt with or it would become infected. So I wailed as he made me sit still until he gently removed the culprit that was causing the pain. The pain was intense for a short time. But as soon as he removed it I felt better. 

Just like the splinter needed to be removed, our hurts and sorrows need to be removed by our Father in heaven.

How many times do we choose to run from pain? When in reality, it is facing our pain that makes it go away. Sure, the grief might be intense for a short time as we are facing it. But in the long run, after the pain has been dealt with we are free to live fully and freely without the pain of the past weighing us down.

Pain festers in our hearts and infects us with bad symptoms in the same way a splinter would fester in our foot and cause many bad symptoms.

Knowing that I needed to let go of a chapter of my life, I embraced the pain. Week after week I returned to my grandparents' house to help go through their things before the new family moved in. As I combed through each closet and drawer it was therapy for my soul. I would find treasures from my past and gleefully share my excitement, "Look what I found!"

The very last day I went to their house was the hardest. The week that I knew would be my very last visit I prayed for God's help. I knew it wouldn't be easy to let go of something that had been a happy part of my life since I was born.

As I pondered the memories of my grandparents' home, I heard the Lord’s still small voice within me.  "I will use the house and property to bless another family in the same way it has blessed yours."  As the Lord was speaking to my heart, I realized that in order to experience the new beginnings He had for my life I had to be willing to let go of the past.

Why is it as humans that we hold on so tightly to our pain and to our past?
The day that I went to pick up the last piece of furniture, the new family was moving in. I introduced myself and began to share my heart with them. Through a few tears and with my voice breaking, I said, “I want this house to bless your family the way it has blessed mine.”   
The gentleman replied to me, "It already is a blessing us." I want to stay here for the rest of my life." While I shared the difficulty I was having in letting go, he responded, “I've got to go inside now, your words are about to cause me to start sobbing."

I'm the kind of person who truly wears my emotions on my sleeves. The vulnerability I was showing about the difficulty of letting go was really touching his heart. It was a powerful God moment for all of us there that day. In my letting go, the new family was able to embrace the gift of this beautiful, sacred home-place. 

My husband and I stood on the edge of the property that overlooks one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. As I embraced my sadness, my husband prayed the sweetest prayer for me. 

In those last moments standing on that beautiful piece of property that had been a sanctuary for me throughout my life, I realized that the sacredness I felt on Poppy's land could be felt every day of my life wherever I am. I rode away from Poppy’s home on this earth and thought about the legacy that he had left behind for me and for my family. As our car pulled away, I let the tears flow. It was an hour and a half drive home. I prayed, “Lord, heal my heart.” By the time I returned home I felt better.

That was last spring on Good Friday of 2012, three days before Easter. How beautiful of the Lord to allow me to celebrate His resurrection with a healed heart, free of pain.

The legacy of Poppy’s love for Christ lives on in my heart. I am free to carry on and live free from the sadness. When we look heavenward, life is sweet and beautiful. When we focus on what we've lost, our lives become defined by brokenness and pain.

That’s what letting go does. It releases the pain and opens the door in our hearts for new beginnings and new beauty.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:7 ESV

Live Abundantly!

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