What I like about the discipline of “letting go” is that it seems counter-intuitive. A discipline is usually thought of as something you “take up.” But if you’re like me, sometimes it feels like there are enough “shoulds” and “to-do’s” in everyday life. Not to say that activities such as prayer and voluntary service don’t need a place in our schedules. But “letting go” is just as important – it teaches us to humble ourselves and to trust.
I learned to practice “letting go” particularly in my grade twelve year, because that was the year I was diagnosed with cancer. I had to “let go” a lot as I lived in to this reality. Here are a few ways I tried to do this.
Laughing was one way I “let go” of the anxiety and uncertainty surrounding my illness. A few months into my chemotherapy treatments, I was trying to complete one of Ozzie Rempel’s genetics assignments for biology class. I was supposed to record my dominant and recessive alleles, such as eye colour, ear lobe shape, and ability (or lack there of) to curl my tongue. All was going smoothly until I got midway down the page, where I read “hairline – straight or “widow’s peak.” Staring at my bald self in the mirror, I had no idea how to answer the question. I let this become a humouress dilemma. I think I jotted a note in the margin, saying “hard to tell!” Then there was the time my youth pastor and I went for coffee, and she prayed aloud for me. I found it funny when she, oblivious to the irony, acknowledged our all-knowing God as the one “who knows the number of hairs on Allegra’s head.” Well, I thought to myself, that’s easy for anyone to figure out. I think laughter is a holy thing. When we laugh, we “let go” by releasing anxiety and giving in to a positive outlook on our lives.
I have also learned that “letting go” means accepting the help and support of others with gratitude and grace. I wouldn’t say that I was strong in my faith during my illness. If anything, I developed more questions and doubts about God. I wanted to feel inspired to pray. I wanted to praise God earnestly when my treatments seemed to be working. But I was exhausted and drained – not just physically and emotionally, but spiritually, too. The reality was – I couldn’t always see my way through on my own. “Letting go” meant trusting others to pray, hope, and hold the faith when I could not. “Letting go” meant freely accepting the help, care, and support that my family, friends, church congregation, and this school community offered me.
Most of all, I discovered that “letting go” is about giving-in to God’s grace. Throughout my cancer journey, there were many times I needed just to sink into God’s unconditional, ever-present love. So often I wanted to overcome all the obstacles in my path. There were mental battles I struggled to conquer with my own understanding. Most teachers here would tell you that I’m not one to give up the controls very easily. For me, the discipline of “letting go” meant learning to leave the healing process up to God. When I “let go,” I tried to accept that I was enough in God’s eyes. I didn’t need to do anything to be cared for by God.
So the spiritual discipline of “letting go” can take many forms. “Letting go” is a posture of humility, trust, and acceptance. I’ve learned to “let go” by laughing, accepting help from others, and resting in God’s grace. I hope you will find the discipline of “letting go” helpful on your own faith journeys.