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Barefoot and Preaching

By Leah Perrault

11/04/2015

Leah PerraultPracticing the art of letting go means living inside the mess

I have a difficult relationship with autumn in Saskatchewan. It is a shorter season than I would like — several brief weeks of dropping temperatures and orange and yellow between the longer seasons green and white. I find it hard to stay present to fall without lamenting the loss of heat and anticipating the cold and snow. My preference is always for the certainty of summer and winter rather than the shiftiness of fall. Bring on the change now if it must come anyway.

This year the change of seasons has been paralleled in our home, as my husband, Marc, lost his job at summer’s end. The inevitable and inescapable waiting of unemployment has me more attentive than ever to the changing seasons. The leaves have been brighter, and each one seems more important as it takes its leave from the tree that held it. Each sunrise and sunset has felt brighter and more significant than in other seasons, perhaps because they mark the passing of another day of waiting. The sky has been filled with pink and purple and orange, pouring beauty and consolation on my impatient heart.

As if unemployment were not enough, there is no pause button on everything else. Life keeps happening in our world. A car breaks down. Spelling must be practiced. Supper still needs to be made every night. We need time for grieving and rest and exercise and play. My impulse is to hold it all together: to do more, think more, and figure it all out.

In learning how to live with and recover from depression, I realized for the first time that my intelligence and over-achieving capacity actually get in my way fairly often. I discovered that I had worshipped a God who had given me all I needed to succeed and expected me to be a superhero. That God is not real, but my distorted image created my reality. It turns out that it is exhausting holding up the walls on a false reality to avoid facing the truth. Eventually, the walls crumbled.

I was wrong about God, and wrong about myself. I did not have it all, and God never expected me to. It turns out that Someone else has already been given the role of Saviour. (Note to self: Leah is not Jesus.) Those false beliefs had me carrying the world in my hands, terrified that I might drop it and break everyone and everything.

This week a friend reached out to me with an overwhelming situation. Flippantly, I said, “Sounds like you have some letting go to do.” The reply came, with tears, “I don’t know how.” My eyes filled with tears too, and I whispered, “Neither do I, but I’m learning that I do not need to know how — I just need to try.”

In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God is at work in the world, holding us tenderly and mercifully, working resurrection everywhere. The Spirit fires the leaves and breaks open the bulbs beneath the frozen ground. This God is good, and trustworthy, and active.

Moment by moment, this is much easier to practice than it is to figure out. It looks like letting the kids paint even if they might make a mess and then cleaning up with them when they do. Letting God work means praying an application into the process and enjoying a Saturday morning with my family. It means asking for help, apologizing when I mess up, and enjoying whatever this day brings. It means doing my part and allowing others the freedom to do theirs, or not, and then not worrying about it. practising the art of letting go means simply trying out a way to distract myself when I am tempted to take over God’s work.

Even thought it sounds ridiculous when I say it aloud to myself, I keep reminding myself that what I cannot do, God can — “and I will let him.” God does not need my permission, but I seem to need the reminder so I can let God work and stay out of the way.

Today, I will let God bring the colder weather, to transform the leaves and gently blow them to new places. I will let God make Wednesday a miracle and I will show up to enjoy it. I will let go of what I want and stand in awe of what is. I will let God open the doors and the windows on the next season of our life, and when they open, I will walk gently through, with trust. Because I am not Jesus and when I stop trying to be, I get to let go into being just Leah, who God loves. And that is turning out to be pretty fabulous.

Perrault is a wife and mom, a grateful employee of the Diocese of Saskatoon and a speaker, writer and consultant at www.leahperrault.com