There is a time to hold on, and a time to let go. It takes wisdom to know when to do which, wisdom and courage. To embrace the new we must also have the courage to let go of the old. And as with much of life, this is easier said than done.
While we can see this innate process in the passing of time (celebrating a New Year is also letting go of the former), growing up, we probably didn’t give it much thought. We started walking, while letting go of the need to be carried by our parents; we advanced from one grade to the next and readily left the previous grade behind. This progression might have been harder for our parents, as parenthood seems like one continuous journey of a bittersweet grief, letting children go as they grow up.
As we get older and life gets more complicated, this simple process seems much harder to embrace. Still, it remains true. In fact, much of the spiritual life is learning to let go, to surrender our will to the Father’s while trusting in his goodness. We are often reluctant to do this because it feels like death, and in a sense it is.
Death is a separation, a letting go, and yet paradoxically is the way to life. We have to die to the old in order to live in the new. We see this in the life of Christ. Before the glory of his resurrection, he had to go through the death of the cross.
If we want to live a life of ever-increasing glory we must also be willing to die, and die daily to both good and bad things. We must let go of the fears and expectations that hold us back, as well as our previous successes and accomplishments, which also keep us living in yesterday and not today.
Many couples come into therapy with a great desire to see things improved in their marriage. While this desire is necessary for change, by itself it is not enough. The old marriage has to die in order for the new marriage to be experienced. This may require individuals to let go of bitterness and resentment, and even of the ideal image from the early years of their relationship. Holding on to the past, whether good or bad, keeps the marriage from its best today.
Certainly there are values, beliefs, and convictions that we should hold tightly to and not give up. At the same time, we learn from the way of the cross, the growth of a child, and the coming of a New Year the wisdom of letting go.
What do you need to let go of in order to become all that God has called you to be today?
For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. -Romans 6:4
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! -2 Corinthians 5:17