Let It Go (Lent)

I think this season of Lent is going to look like a lot of different things for me. I shared how some people give up things during Lent and how we can lean into more of a life with Jesus. ( read Lent – Letting Go and Leaning In ) I don’t have a specific thing that I’m giving up (seriously, not coffee), but I am working on the letting go pieces.

I’m ready to let go of some things in my life. Both physical things and old ideas. Sometimes I think we need to clear out space in our lives, mentally and physically, to be prepared for the good and the new that is to come.

These last days of winter are perfect for this. These days when I feel overwhelmed and just need a bright spot of sun. Days when I feel exhausted and look for that ray of hope.

Spring always comes. Every year it comes. The grass will be green again, the flowers will bloom, and the sun will feel amazing on my skin. The hope is just on the horizon.

Time to let go, time to clear out, time to prepare for the spring in life.

I recently saw a picture of what letting go can look like over Lent. Instead of abstaining from sweets for the period, spend 40 days purging. Clean out the junk, the clutter. Donate your unused stuff to a charity, to someone whom it will bless.

So, that’s what I’m doing.empty closet

Getting rid of the stuff.

Getting rid of the old ideas attached to the stuff.

Some of it’s easy to toss.

Some of the stuff is tough though.

It’s attached to a lot of memories.

While I know the things don’t contain the person or event and I don’t need to keep the things, those memories are flooding me tonight. Some memories of people and things and events that will never be again. And some things I had hopes for, that aren’t reality today. But cleaning out this closet needs to happen. Releasing some of these memories is hard, but I trust it’s what I need to do.

I’m sitting here with a scarf wrapped around me that I wore in Israel. It reminds me of my sweet friend Annette, who took her life last summer. I just folded another scarf that belonged to my grandma. I’m not ready to let it go yet, even though in a few days it will be three years since we let her go.

I found a bag I brought gifts from Mexico home in and I’m reminded of the one who blew me off and never got their gift. I tossed an old tank top that someone bought me as a matchy-matchy silly gift. I didn’t even realize I still had it at the bottom of a basket. And the hats collecting dust on my bookshelf? Safari in the basement, I’ve never worn you again. Stupid cowboy hat from even stupider person? Why are you still here?

I still have the personalized duffel bags from when I taught preschool, well over ten years ago. I so appreciated them at the time. Those were also some of the hardest days of my life at the end of my marriage. Why do I still have those bittersweet reminders?

I feel myself getting angry. And sad. And worn out. And frustrated. And wondering what to do with all this emotion.

And then a breath of fresh air arrives in the lyrics of a song. (btw, He talks to me all the time in music)

“Every day is a start of something beautiful”

There it is.

The reminder of my word for the year: Beauty.

Let it go, Nancy. Keep the sweet, beautiful memories. Let go of the bad ones. You’ve already learned your lessons from them. Remember the lessons. They’re part of who you are, but they are not your full story. Keep letting go of the stuff. Keep making space for the good and the new that is coming. Keep leaning in for more. Keep seeing the beauty and joy around you.

Tomorrow is a fresh new day and a start to something beautiful.

 

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!       Lamentations 3:22-23 (The Message)

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Love Always Wins

My heart hurts for our nation today. Not because I voted one way or another. Or because you voted one way or another. I hurt because I see hatred and division running unchecked. Because I see people clinging to their view only and lacking any sort of tolerance. Because I see people holding so tight to fear that it’s driving their actions and reactions.

That’s what scares me the most right now. People are living and acting out of their fear without regard to what they’re doing or who else they may be hurting.

Friends, it’s okay to feel some fear. Yes, it’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to be angry. Anger is God’s intended warning light in your life. Pay attention to it. Rest with your anger for a moment. But just a moment. Because you can’t live there. You can’t live your life based on fear and anger. And how you choose to react to your anger can have very real consequences.

Whichever side of the country you feel you want to sit with, I know where I stand. I stand with the one who made me, the one who made everything, the one who is in control. But that can’t be the standard answer to all of my friends; to just trust God and it will all be okay. I know God was in control before the election, is in control today, and will be in control tomorrow. But just saying those words to many, many of my friends who don’t yet know Him, well, that feels confusing and hurtful. Because so many of my friends have been hurt by the religiosity of this day. And just knowing He’s in control doesn’t remove the pain or the hurt and it doesn’t automatically heal the divides that have been created.

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Instead of living from a place of fear, what if we were to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly? Together? What if instead of holding so tight to our preconceived notions and living divided by differences we chose to extend mercy to those around us? What if we were compassionate and kind towards those who offend us? To those who are different than us? What if we react out of love, not fear? And when we see others not being treated fairly, especially if the unfairness comes based on the color of their skin or country of birth, what if we stood up for them? Or gave them a step up? Instead of just speaking for them and what we think they want to say, what if we just let them speak freely? And we listen.

As we listen, love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly, what if we also ask ourselves what is the next right step for me? What choices do I have (we always have several) but what is the next right step for me in my life right now? And how does that step help those around me? How do I step away from fear and closer to love? How do I step out of the divisions around me, and closer to love? How can we be a bit kinder to those around us rather than arguing party lines and further dividing our country?

I pray that you sit with this for a bit. Then I pray the step you choose leads you closer to others. Closer to understanding. Closer to kindness. Closer to forgiveness. Closer to love. Because love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I pray that love always wins. In your life, and in mine.

Be blessed, my friends.

nancy


 

Here’s a song that’s inspired me the last few days. I hope it helps you to care a little more too.

“Forgiveness is the only real revenge…

Keep yourself open…

Peace and love aren’t so far…”