Mary Rabe is a great friend of mine and I was so honored she shared this story of inspiration in person with me, I KNEW that the RaisingRices’ community would be encouraged as well! So thank you Mary for your courage and words of wisdom!
This week God taught me another lesson in letting go. That has been my theme for this year, and He’s already taught me so much in this that I was honestly a bit surprised to realize He had even more for me to take in! See, I had made the difficult decision to step down as a small group leader in the mom’s group of the church I used to attend. This was the last “tie” I had to that church, the last thing I was involved with, so it was a decision I did not enter lightly and that brought up a lot of emotions.
I have truly loved that church. I attended it for well over a decade, and it was part of so many major milestones in my life, from taking on my parents’ faith as my own in high school, to my first years as a wife, to becoming a mommy. With all that, of course it wasn’t an easy choice to leave in the first place, but knowing I would still have a small part of it through this ministry helped the transition. So when I knew God was telling me that I needed to cut even that out to lessen my load in this chaotic season, I felt very anxious. I didn’t want to let people down. I didn’t want to lose relationships I had built there. I didn’t want to let go of a place and people that had meant so much. Still, I knew something had to give, so I let the leader know I needed to step down and that the next meeting would be my last one.
The “big day” came, and I was so emotional. I was dismayed to realize I was out of place there, and felt like I no longer belonged; I was worried about “losing it” in front of everyone at my table; I felt guilty for letting the leadership and my sweet little group of ladies down…I was a mess. When the break time came, I still hadn’t officially let my ladies know I was leaving because I was so close to tears and couldn’t think of the words to say. I made a hasty retreat to the restroom where I was hopeful I could pull myself together more, and that was where I ran into an old family friend. This dear lady has known me just about the whole time I had attended that church, and is friends with my parents. She asked me about how things were at my new church, and about life in general, and for whatever reason I just couldn’t hold in the emotions anymore. As I tried to talk, the tears just started pouring out. “I’m sorry,” I blubbered, “I’m just so emotional today. It’s my last day here. It’s just really hard.” My sweet friend was so understanding. She gave me a big hug and said, “That’s really hard, I know.” Then she asked if she could pray for me, and her prayer suddenly helped me understand the “big picture” of what was going on in my heart. She talked about how hard it was and how painful it felt to have “one foot in the old and one foot in the new”, and she asked God to help me step out of the past things, to let go of them, and to have both feet firmly planted in the new things He had for me. This wasn’t just about feeling guilty for letting people down, or facing the sadness of not seeing old friends as much; this was God calling me to let go of something that had been so, so good in my life and to fully embrace the new He wanted for me in this new season. It was scary. It was painful. No wonder my emotions were all over the place!
This wise woman’s prayer, though, gave me so much peace. I knew I had made the right decision, and that now all I had left to do was to “end well”, say my goodbyes, and step into the new things He had in store. I finished the morning with much more clarity and peace; it was still hard, and still very emotional, but there was something very reassuring about knowing I was doing what God wanted me to do, and I had hope for the new things He wants for me.
Maybe you are in a place where God is asking you to let go of something that has been such a good thing in your life, but is no longer His will for you. It could be a relationship, a job, a house, a ministry…there are a myriad of “good” things that could turn out to just not be His “best” for this season. It’s hard to sort through those things in our mind, trying to decide which good things to cut out in order to make room for the best, and it’s only made harder when those things have built-in memories and have been with us for a long time. I believe, though, that it is only when we willingly surrender those things, and release our grip on them, that we are able to fully take hold of the new thing God wants for us. God doesn’t want us to hold onto past goodness with one hand and His new plans and blessings with the other; He wants us to drop the past and wrap both arms around His new plans, fully embracing them with complete surrender and trust.
This doesn’t mean that we completely cut out everything from the past like it never happened, of course. We still treasure lessons, relationships, and blessings from the past, but we don’t let them hold us back from the new things God has in store. So, Friends, I know it’s hard to move on; I know saying goodbye is so painful; and I know moving ahead is scary. But let’s do this thing. Let’s trust that when God says it’s time to let go, it’s for the best, and it’s only in order to fill our now-empty hands with something just as wonderful–maybe even more so. Think about it: those things we are struggling to let go of now that have been so good were once the “new things” we felt uncertain about grasping! How could the new thing God is doing possibly be anything less than excellent?! I’ve only gotten glimpses of some of the “new” God has for me in this new step of letting go, and I am already so overwhelmed by His grace, mercy, and love in all of it; I can’t wait to see what else He does.
By: Mary Rabe