I remember the day when I knew that I had to stop paying the mortgage.
During our family’s decade long addiction crisis, my goal was to keep my family together at all costs, keep up appearances and protect everything we loved – even our credit rating. Doggone it, that mortgage was paid on time every single month for 18 years and I didn’t want to mess that up!
Addictions are uncontrollable, but that didn’t stop me from waking up each day with a plan to keep it from controlling our family’s future. I worked multiple jobs, played the financial shell game and spent hours stressfully trying to save someone who didn’t want to save himself.
The result: I was falling apart more than I thought that I was keeping everything together. But I held onto the belief that it was up to me to keep it all together.
Speaking of I’s…most of my thoughts began with a self-righteous I.
I was the responsible one.
I was making all of the sacrifices.
I was the one working two jobs to keep things going.
I wasn’t the one with the addiction.
Lurking behind the door of my self-righteousness facade lived a lot of fear.
I feared falling apart – and then everyone would know that I couldn’t keep my family together. I feared disappointing God – maybe I wasn’t praying hard enough (which is wrong-thinking!)
The weight of an uncontrollable addiction’s impact on my life pressed on my soul. I staggered through each day believing that it I could carry the weight, then one day everything would change.
Sure, I prayed. But, I thought that if God hadn’t changed anything, then maybe He was okay with me carrying the weight.
Now, I look back and I can see that God was waiting for me to realize that problem weighed far too too much for me to carry…
Here’s what I wrote my Surrendered: Letting Go and Living Like Jesus Study:
“…we often spend a lot of mental energy trying to stay in whatever fight is most important to us – the fight for financial security, our marriage, our child’s survival, our jobs or our faith. However, fighting in a situation that you can’t change, control, or conquer will wear you down and eventually wear you out. At a certain point, we’ll choose one of two responses. Here are the first two:
- Giving up is losing hope.
- Giving in is caving to anther’s agenda.
However, there is a third option: Letting go.
Letting Go isn’t trying to fix or force a solution but living by faith that God will do what is best.”
Recently, I saw a social media post from a well-known Christian author who wrote that letting go is an awful Christian cliché that we really need to stop saying. Her rationale was that saying “Let go and let go” was simplistic when we’re suffering. She argued that the cliché phrase doesn’t capture the heart of Christ.
I disagree. There’s nothing simplistic about letting go, or surrender. In my recovery group, one of the slogans is “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” It IS painful to feel the consequences of what we can’t control. Yet, suffering is worse. Suffering, however, is the mental anguish that we put ourselves through. Letting go and giving our people and problems over to God frees us from our suffering.
We suffer because we say things to ourselves like “If we hold on long enough or work hard enough, we can fix this” or “I pray long enough, then God will answer my prayer like I hoped.” While we wait, we wake up weighted down each day by our expectations. Just because you hold on doesn’t mean that you can fix that person that you live or that problem that you’re afraid will wreck your life.
Letting go recognizes that we can’t, but God can – and we choose trust whatever He does – or doesn’t do. That’s hard! Like my friend said, “I pray and want to trust God, but in the back of my mind I wonder if He might end up giving me a whammy instead of a blessing.”
Letting go isn’t easy. But, it’s so worth it. Especially when the weight is too much.
This is why I had to stop paying the mortgage. I had to stop filling in all of the spaces and gaps of trying to fix a bigger problem in our family. It wasn’t about the mortgage. The mortage was just one of the ways that I convinced myself that all of my efforts were getting things under control. Unfortunately, all of my worst fears came true.
While there was a lot of pain, God’s promises and mercy settled like a thick blanket of peace. God saved me from my suffering.
When I stopped trying to fix people and force solutions, I had more time to focus on God. Guess what? When I stopped trying to fix and do all of the things, I could see where God was working.
As Tim Keller said, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.”
When I surrendered, God showed me how He solves problems. God is a much better people and problem solver more than me.
Now, what about you?
Do you need to let go of a problem or person – even if you don’t want to? Here’s three questions to consider:
- Are you tired of trying to fix problems that aren’t in your control?
- Are you tired of trying to help people who don’t want to do what’s healthy or helpful for themselves?
- Are you tired of playing God?
Dear God, there are situations in my life that I cannot handle – like this pandemic. I am grateful that you can. I’m giving the following situations to you _________________________ . Thank you for taking care of me and what I cannot control. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: What are you holding onto that you need to let go of? What’s hard about letting go for you?
FREE GIFT: Click here to download my free Letting Go Loop worksheet.
COMING THIS SEPTEMBER!
My new Surrendered: 40 Days to Help You Let Go and Live Like Jesus releases! This uplifting devotional book covers your hardest “letting go” topics with personal stories, biblical principles, practical next steps and prayer. You can pre-order NOW for $9.99 through my publisher – that’s exciting!