The Art of Letting Go
School has started here (finally!) in BC - a few weeks late but it's now autumn in all it's fullness. Backpacks and sandwiches and nervous beginnings. I have 4 kids from my daycare that are beginning their school journeys for the first time - little kindergarteners all optimism and potential, and only slight traces of uncertainty. 3 of these kids have a younger sibling also in my daycare. This has made for an interesting week as I watch different families make the transition, with the eldest moving up and the youngest feeling left behind. I'm celebrating on one side and then turning and holding up the sad little one on the other side. Excited hugs and sad hugs. Nervous smiles and tears of separation. We are all of us learning the art of letting go. It's a good thing to master, this art, because all of life is a letting go.
Birth, relationships, death, faith, in it all is the letting go. You can't start high school until you finish junior high. You can't get married or have kids until you let go of (some) freedom. You can't grasp the mature things of faith before you've moved past the basics. You can't brush up against death without letting your loved one rest. We must first let go before we're free to grasp what's next in our journey.
And yes, it is an art form because it's unique to each of us. There's no formula I can offer (believe me, I've looked). Each of us faces the letting go in our own way. These little ones I'm caring for have such different reactions, and I have to adapt on the fly to the needs of each one. But the message is always the same: you are loved, I believe in you, there are good things ahead for you.
Do you know the story of Elijah & Elisha? Elijah was Israel's chief prophet, and performed many miracles. Elijah becomes Elisha's mentor, and for 10 years the younger learns from the older - soaking up each experience and waiting for the proper time to step out in ministry himself. At the end of Elijah's life, Elisha is bold enough to ask for a double portion of his anointing, and in God's grace he receives it.
If you find yourself in the letting go as the Elijah, there are some things you can learn from him. Trust that God has put the right people in place to take over for you. God never asks us to let go when He has no plan for who will pick it up. Spend the time to finish well. Pass on what you know, and invest your last days in setting others up for success. Ask what you can do to bless them as you go. If it is a relationship that you need to let go of, impart as much grace as possible. Put others first, and trust that God will take care of your needs.
If you find yourself as the Elisha in the letting go, these words are for you. Be patient. Don't ask them to leave before it is time - invest in their dreams until God allows you to bring your own dreams to the front. Honour those who go before you. Never speak ill of the ones who made a way for you - praise them publicly and confront them privately. Don't be afraid to mourn your loss. Be bold. It takes courage to ask for anointing, and courage to live it out. When it is finally your turn to step up, be ready to step out. Stay humble. One of Elisha's first miracles after receiving this anointing was to curse some kids who were making fun of his bald head, and they were subsequently eaten by bears (I can't make this stuff up, it's in the Bible!).
Sometimes the letting go is forced upon us by circumstances, and sometimes it takes courage for us to initiate. At some point in life we find ourselves on either side of the coin, and the best we could do would be to trust God's hand in it all, and let Him teach us the art of letting go.