February. Short month. But its length of days belies its impact on my year.
Nearly two months in to this OneWord365 journey, I’m stunned by how meaningful and important “release” has become. After the first month, I wrote about how I saw “release” in everything around me. This month, it was more about acting on my conviction that I need to “let go” in a lot of areas of life.
There were things like visiting a new (to us) church in town for a baby dedication. Encountering a worship style different from what we’re used to is always a bit freeing. And during this visit, when the kids were released for the children’s program, our daughter took off and went with them, because that’s what she’s used to doing. I had a momentary panic attack because I didn’t know where she was going or who she was with (our son was almost asleep on my lap). Not that I’m saying I’m going to deliberately put my children in harm’s way, but there are times when I have to let go a little bit. Maybe this is just a preview for the fall when she’ll go to school and I’ll be a mess. (Spoiler alert: I’m a control freak AND a crier, so yeah, those will be some happy days.)
I must start the process of letting my kids go because I can’t keep them under my control forever. And in fact, when we named our kids, we did so with the intention that their lives would be God’s and not ours to control.
And there was the less important but still meaningful act of sending a stack of research books back to the library. I’m writing a novel, but those books were research for a different story. I am now free to focus on one story at a time.
Most significantly, this month unexpectedly brought me to a point of decision about life and future and calling. I could choose to cling to moldy expectations or I could take a step in a new direction.
I could do what’s expected. Or I could change the world.
I could shoulder burdens I wasn’t meant to carry. Or I could drop them.
I could panic. Or breathe deep. And reach for the Hand of my Savior, trusting Him to lead me on this blind walk of faith.
I could bottle up my tears, my bitterness, my pain, my anger and pretend my heart is hard and unaffected by the choices and decisions of those around me. I could decay from the inside out. Or I could cry. And feel. And remind myself I’m alive.
I could fight for a title. A couple of words that I think would give me worth or credibility. Or I could embrace me. And all that God has made me.
Somewhere along life’s journey, I let myself be shaped by something other than my relationship with Christ. Even before I met Him, I did what I thought I was supposed to do. I became who I thought people wanted me to be. For good or bad.
I am still driven by people’s perceptions. By a need for approval. And acceptance. I desire to be worthy of this life God has given me.
Yet all this month, He has prodded me to “let go.”
To open my hands to him. (Psalm 143:6)
To wait on him. To pray “a self-emptying prayer that enables (me) to receive whatever it is God wants to give. (To) come to him with empty hands and empty heart, having no agenda.” (Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton)
Or put another way:
Coffee with Jesus is extra meaningful when the character has my name.
To walk at liberty. (Psalm 119:45)
To shake off my dust and free myself from the chains on my neck. “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” (Isaiah 52:2-3)
And on Ash Wednesday, before the reminder that I came from dust and will return to dust, that my role in this world is liberator. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58)
Thus my prayer for the months ahead becomes the words of a psalmist:
In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free.
Ten more months of “release” await. And I find myself excited about the possibilities.