Rev. Joel L. Tolbert
Looking back over the last few months, I am sensing a common thread in conversations. People are letting go.
A person was being forced to change jobs. The pandemic had made their former job untenable, but so much of their identity was wrapped up in that job. How could they say goodbye to what they had done and who they have been for so long? They didn't really have a choice about it, but letting go was still hard.
A person talked to me about letting go of a special relationship. There had been deceit and betrayal. When it came to light, there wasn't a desire to admit, confess, and repair the broken trust from the other. If honesty and humility had reentered the relationship, perhaps it could have survived, but without it, letting go became the difficult but natural consequence.
A person shared how a friend had become politically polarized, and could no longer accept data, facts, or truth. Their friendship had once thrived of their diverse opinions, and they learned and grew from one another. Now, any information that supported their political preference was lifted up, and any information that confronted their political preference was dismissed or attacked. Without the other's ability to accepts truths as true anymore, or to respectfully engage, letting go of the relationship became the difficult but healthy decision.
A person watched a loved one lose their battle with health issues and die. There were lots of what-ifs. What if we had caught it sooner? What if we had tried the other treatment? What if a different doctor or medical group had made room for us? Questions like these are a normal part of grief, but knowing the stages of grief doesn't make losing a loved one any easier. Regardless of how many what-if scenarios we imagine, those who grieve seek the peace that comes in remembering them, loving them always, trusting them to God, and letting go.
I have people I know or love who have said or done (or posted) things that do not reconcile with God's special love for the immigrant, children, elderly, sick, homeless, hungry, poor, and outcast. If they claim to believe in God, to be a Christian, or to love all people, I might engage them about God, God's Kingdom, and our calling to help rebuild it for all people until it comes. My attempts rarely bear good fruit. More often, I receive back defensiveness, aggressiveness, denial, and dismissiveness. I am trying to learn when to persevere with hope, and when to trust and let go.
There are times when letting go is good. When the prodigal son approached his father demanding independence and freedom, the father knew it was a bad path for the son he loved. Still, the father practiced letting go. When Jesus was teaching his disciples, he warned them some would listen and others would not. For those who cannot hear the Good News of God's coming kingdom or believe it, Jesus advised his disciples to dust off their shoes and be okay letting go.
As you pray over these names of others near and far this week, pause for a moment and wonder within yourself, are you facing any tough choices that involve letting go? Ask God about them? Are these moments of faithful perseverance, or are these moments to faithfully practice letting go?
Blessing, Laughter, and Loving be yours,
Rev. Joel Tolbert