I’ll be the first to admit it, I really really really like to hold onto things. I hold onto good things, like memories, emotions, moments, and silly little knick-knacks that remind me of a certain place and time. But I also tend to hold onto bad things as well… grudges, hurtful words, bitterness, and old aches and pains. I hold these things up for a “rainy day,” because you never know when you’ll need to find a reason to remain hostile towards someone or justify your mistrusting nature.
To me, holding onto things seems much easier than sorting through all the things that I need to let go. When someone hurts me once, I hold onto that so that if and when they hurt me again, I can tell myself that I should have known better. That’s horrible, isn’t it?
And much like a macbook, I’m finding that I’m running low on storage… I’m almost all out of space for new things – good things, because there are so many things that I can’t bring myself to let go of. There are folders and folders of emotional “stuff” that I need to sort through, deal with, then get rid of if necessary. And I’m not very good at that, but I am trying better to be… I have started the painful process of looking back at things that are far, far in the past, and making a conscious effort to really “deal” with these things – and let go.
This is what I have learned on:
Letting Go of the Hurt:
We are all human, we all make mistakes. And because of that, we tend to hurt others in the process of going about our lives, and we tend to get hurt too. There are so things that, to me, feel so brutal, so terrible that I can’t let it go. Whether that be painful words, gossip spread about me, or the pain of a messy break up, it’s hard to let go and replace those feelings with feelings of forgiveness.
But when you think about it, those hostile feelings really have no place in your heart. Sure, if someone has hurt you really bad, then naturally there will be a bit of distrust and hesitation that will result from their actions. But you cannot dwell on your hurt. I’ve found that dwelling on my hurt just makes it more difficult to find joy and peace in my own life and relationships separate from the person that hurt me. Focusing so much on the hurt has caused me to be unnecessarily closed off from people who genuinely want to know me and care for my heart.
Letting go of that hurt and replace it with a hopeful spirit. There’s a somewhat cheesy saying that has the phrase “love like you’ve never been hurt,” but it rings true. You’ll discover joy and peace when you learn to let those wounds heal.
Letting Go of What Wasn’t
I could write books and books full of the times I’ve said sentences that started with the words, “If only I was…” I can’t even count the times that I wished I was prettier, smarter, better at photography, stronger…you name it. It seems like there is almost something that I could improve on or that would make my life exponentially better if I just had that.
While being stronger and smarter and better at some of my hobbies isn’t a bad thing, always feeling inadequate is. If I keep focusing my attention on what I am not right this second then I will never be able to focus on the steps I need to take to get better. I will never enjoy life for what it is right now, and I will certainly never find contentment.
There are so many situations that I wish would have worked out a little differently, a lot of friendships that I wish wouldn’t have faded. But those things are out of my control now, they’re in the past. And they unnecessarily weigh me down from focusing on what is in front of me right now and what is ahead. Let it go.
Letting Go of Friends
This one is hard. I have a lot of fond memories from high school, with some people that I’ll forever hold dear to my heart. But growing up changes those friendships, and going to college and moving from the place we grew up causes distance. It’s a natural thing, growing apart as we all grow up. But it can be hard, and sometimes it’s easy to feel replaced.
Other times it was my fault that the friendship faded, but still other times it was nothing I did – some people just chose to walk out of my life as if they were never there. Some people that were once your best friends are nothing more than strangers you pass on your way to class, or a name you see pop up on your facebook feed every once in a while. Sometimes the distance was just a natural thing, but other times there is pain and hurt that come with those broken friendships.
I’m struggling with this one in particular. I’m not perfect by any means, and I realize that I fall short in a lot of ways. I’m headstrong and reckless to a fault, and sometimes I don’t always see that my words have the potential to hurt so deeply. But no matter that, it still hurts to no extend when someone who you held close just decides to pretend like you don’t exist, or try to erase the part of their life that had you involved. And for me… I understand that I probably was wrong at times, but it still baffles me as to how someone could have such a big problem with me that they decided shutting me out was better than bringing things up. Now, the memories and the photographs are more bitter than sweet, and it feels like i can’t move on or process things for myself without being scrutinized. It’s difficult, to say it simply, and it hurts a lot. There’s nothing more painful than realizing that someone who used to do life with you doesn’t care much for you being in their life anymore.
But you can try and try and try to understand what you did or where things went wrong and not get an answer. Believe me, I’ve tried millions of times. While sometimes it is healthy to get closure and sometimes it is a good thing to attempt to smooth things over with that person, sometimes that won’t happen. And it sucks. But you have to realize that you have value even if that person doesn’t think so. And sometimes closure doesn’t come, as much as we hope it to. And sometimes that’s okay.
In these moments, it can be so easy to hold on tightly because we just have to find closure or find an answer to all of the questions we might have. But instead of spending countless hours going back in your mind to see where things started to crumble and how you could have done better and been better, you can move on.
Because as harsh as it sounds, they moved on. And you can move on too. Forgive them for the unanswered questions and the hurtful choices they made. Forgive them and move on. Choose grace when you could bitterness and resentment. Let go of that grudge, or it will consume you and make you into a hostile, critical person. Don’t let them have that much control of you.
You might never get the answers you hope for, but I promise that you’ll find the people who will be a part of your life for the long haul. You’ll find people who show up and don’t stop showing up.
These are just a few things I’ve learned during this “spring cleaning” of my heart. May you find the strength to let go of what you need to. I pray for your hearts to choose grace and peace in these types of situations in your life. Don’t be disheartened, because I have a long ways to go as well. But we will get there.