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Letting Go

Saul by Andrew ChandlerAnd the women sang to one another as they made merry, "Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands." Saul was very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom?" So Saul eyed David from that day on.
—1 Samuel 18: 7-8

Whatever else we can say about Saul and his increasingly hostile behavior toward the esteemed and beloved David, we know that he isn’t suffering from a delusion. David IS a threat to Saul’s position. David is God’s chosen; he is the anointed king of Israel, successful in all that he does.

Saul is aware of this truth at a core level, and he lets it eat away at him. In response he tightens his grip on his own kingship and begins both overt and clandestine attacks on his rival. Rather than see David as the God–given hope for Israel, Saul is wrenched by jealousy and consumed by thoughts of what he could lose.

We too can react like Saul when our circumstances begin changing, viewing the world through grasping, suspicious eyes that perceive only threats to our position. What if in his fear and resentment, Saul had turned to God and asked for guidance? What if he had trusted in God that there could be something else in store for him —no longer a kingship, but a role more suited to him now?

It is not that far-fetched to imagine ourselves reacting as Saul did, hurling spears at those we think are trying to supplant and discard us. Looking beyond the immediate situation seems almost impossible, especially as both the threat and our jealousy increase. But when we trust in God we are better able to remember that we cannot see past the horizon. Our view may be clouded but God’s is not. And with prayer and listening, we may realize that change offers new possibilities. Letting go is not the same as giving up.


To relinquish something is to release whatever power it holds over us.

Mark Muesse
excerpted from The Parable of the Slighted Son


In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go? — Siddhārtha Gautama


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;  a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;  a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away. 

—Ecclesiastes 3:1-6


Letting go isn't a matter of clicking off one switch and flipping on another. Rather it’s a gradual, subtle process where certain attitudes seem to emerge over time as one continues toward freedom of spirit. These attributes cut across lines of gender, age, personality type, and religious affiliation. It's as if God is patiently waiting to grow the fruits of the spirit in us, if we will just release what is blocking the flow of grace.

 —Linda Douty 
excerpted from How Can I Let Go If I Don't Know I'm Holding On?


Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go. — Hermann Hesse


Oftentimes we are unwilling to embrace change because we fear the unknown.  In other words, it's not really change we avoid, but the results of the change that lie hidden in darkness —unavailable to us. 

Renée Miller
excerpted from Embracing Change


We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. — Joseph Campbell


People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. — Thich Nhat Hanh


Do not be conformed to this world,* but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.* 

—Romans 12.2:


Growth, and the changes that often come with it, can be difficult, uncertain, stressful and usually require a lot more work. And growth is likely to be more durable or longer lasting than simple change. Like life, growth is a journey. Sometimes it is a journey we make by ourselves. Sometimes it is a journey we make with the help of family or friends or a counselor or our pastor. Frequently, it is a journey we make with God. 

Earle Donelson
excerpted from Life is the Great Adventure


Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. — Ray Bradbury


You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbours, for we are members of one another. 

—Ephesians 4:22-25