The Art of Letting Go

Hi friends,

This is a blog post I've really been delaying for awhile now but that I know I need to share. I've been holding it off partly because I've been so busy, but also because I was not fully ready since this story is something I never thought that I would share since it's so personal. But I will share, and my hope is that if it helps give you a new way of seeing disappointments in love and letting go, this blog post will have done its job :).

So when I was in college, I was so totally depressed and anxious and spiritually broken that I stopped knowing how to appreciate life, and how to love myself. Without going into too much detail, there were times when I woke up in the morning, feeling like I had nothing good to look forward to. From all of the ways I betrayed myself and God, I had come to the point where I loathed myself and struggled to see my place in the world.

Just as a side note to give you some context: Much of these emotions didn't just come up out of nowhere. Many of them came from me placing way too much importance on the wrong things like trying to "become fit" and make my body look a certain way (thinking losing weight would give me a greater sense of control and self-worth), and from my prideful thinking that I didn't need God's help, that I could do things on my own from here. None of these were helpful.

So friends, during this dark time in my life, God was good to me and sent me a friend who saw in me the things that I could not. This guy, by loving me, helped me learn how to love myself again. And out of my gratitude for the good things he brought me, I fell in love.

While the love he showed me certainly had a healing power and was like medicine to my broken heart, God showed me an important truth-- that medicine is only good in the extent to which it fulfills its purpose.

Morphine can be quite a good thing when used on the battlefield and you've been hit. But once you become well and use it on a regular basis hoping for its good effects, it's no longer medicine but a drug. And now you're in danger of dependency and reaching an overdose.

This is somewhat what happened in our relationship.

After a certain point, the relationship no longer had the same effect. But I tried holding on, hoping that one day I would feel happy and fulfilled in the relationship, even though my heart really did not feel that it was right.

What made things most confusing for me is when my family stepped in and began making decisions for me, forcing us to break up. While they thought this would help me to move on from a relationship that probably was not good for me in the long-run, it actually made it more difficult.

In fact, I developed an even stronger desire to one day get back together and find out really what my heart wanted. For the next three years, although I dated other people, I simply could not let go of the thought of him, and of what I thought I had lost.

Which led me to do something that I wasn't sure was the right thing to do, but I did anyways.

Over the course of three years, I wrote letters to him that nobody knew about-- not even he knew. I wrote a total of 52 letters, hoping that one day, if we got back together and I felt that it was right, I would give these letters to him and show him that even though my parents separated us, I still continued thinking of him.

Three fateful years later, I moved out of my parents' house. My newfound independence gave me the courage to do what I never thought I would do-- reach out to this guy I had known years ago and find out how I really felt deep down.

Long story short, I did reach out, and he responded. We began dating again, and for the first time, I was able to see clearly why the relationship could never last. We were simply too different.

We had different religious beliefs, different worldviews, different lifestyles. As much as I told myself that I would compromise on certain things in order to make the relationship work, I just found myself feeling like I was betraying myself and my most important values.

To make matters even more clear for me, the person who once taught me how I would like to be treated in a relationship now also became the person who taught me how I would never want to be treated in a relationship. I felt more undervalued and insignificant than I have ever felt in any relationship.

With this new conviction that the relationship was simply the wrong fit, we went our separate ways.

Letting go for the final time was one of the most liberating experiences I have ever felt. However, although I let go emotionally, I knew I needed to also let go physically.

So back to the stack of unsent, unopened letters.

Part of me was so angry that I had held on for so long. For what? Nothing? Everything had ended. What was the meaning of all the time and effort I put into writing all these letters?

Instead of burning them or throwing them away, I decided to do something different. I decided to give them a new meaning.

One by one, I began opening these letters.

I think part of me letting go also took place in the way I opened the letters. I was less like a surgeon, carefully slicing in order to avoid harming the insides. Instead, I was more like a coroner (you know, the guys who do autopsies, inspecting bodies after they've died). I found myself ripping so carelessly, tearing the envelopes open to just get the insides out. If you saw me, you could probably tell I was no longer opening something fragile and alive but truly something that was dead. I don't say this in a mean or resentful way, but to simply show that there truly is a transformation in how you handle things you've decided to truly let go of.

As I opened each letter, I placed it into a new envelope and also tucked in an additional note that I had written. Here is what the note said:

After I resealed all the letters that now had this additional note inside, I called up my best friend Katrina and asked her if she would help me deliver these letters, and be with me as I finally let go once and for all.

This is a picture of us at her house right before releasing the letters:

I think one of the greatest treasures in life is to be able to have friends who support us, and who are there for us when we take those big steps of letting go.

Something I learned from all this is that the art of letting go is really just about finding meaning in the letting go.

When I realized the relationship was over, I could have mourned for the hopes that were lost. I could have cried about all the times I did have hope, which turned into nothing. But instead I decided to give my letting go a new meaning. I decided to make it into a joyful thing that not only brought me to a better place, but also potentially helped others.

Letting go does not always have to be about losing something.

That's right.

Every time we let go-- every time we say 'no' to something-- we are really saying 'yes' to something else. I think that remembering this fact is critical in allowing ourselves to truly let go and move on from anything, really.

When we say no to something, we are really saying yes to something else.

For me, when I said no to a relationship that made me feel undervalued, insignificant, and uncared for, I said yes to a future relationship that would make me feel cherished and loved and valued. When I said no to a relationship where God was not the center, I was really saying yes to a relationship where God would be at the core and the One holding up the relationship.

So what are some ways your heart is asking you to say 'no' so that you can finally say 'yes' to something so much better? Maybe it's a relationship. Perhaps it's the way you treat yourself. Or maybe it's a lifestyle change.

I hope that this post encourages you with the truth that beyond the letting-go is the letting-in of better, more beautiful things.

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