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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

Let. It. Go!

Let It Go!

I have struggled with where to take this blog post. SO many different angles….so many paths….so many meanings. And I’m not sure I’ve settled on anything just yet but we’ll see what spits out as I type.

A couple decades ago I really focused on memorizing the Word. My favorite book in the Bible is Philippians and I set out to memorize it. I thought of the American heroes held captive in times of war in a lonely, cold, dank isolated prison cell with only whatever was memorized from which to draw strength and hope. It drove me to wanting to ‘hide in my heart’ the Word. I got through the first two chapters and into the third before it fell off. Chapter 2 is my favorite but there’s a verse in chapter 3 that keeps coming back to mind…it pushes me forward…sometimes over the edge…sometimes running to hide and peeking out from behind the door to see if it’s safe (hint: it is!). It’s Philippians 3:13 and it simply says this:

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

In other words….let it go….so you can move forward.

Three words. Let. It. Go. Short….no more than 3 letters in any of the words. Simple….no great hidden meaning. To the point…what part of ‘let it go’ don’t you understand?

I am now 2.5 weeks returned from retreat and I STILL find myself staring into space at times, knowing my brain is thinking and processing yet unable to explain just what. I thought of taking you to the exact moment when God broke through, yet right now it still feels so sacred and personal that I’m not quite ready for that just yet. Nothing personal. Well…it is…..for me.

I thought of many different paths this post could take. And when that verse popped in my head earlier today with a FB message chat with a couple friends, it kind of just stuck. So blog I will.

I love how Paul puts it…..”forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” If that’s not a description of struggle I don’t know what is! Why does he make it sound so easy….so effortless….so spiritual? So…understated.

Forget. Forget?! FORGET! If that’s Paul’s secret he can have it! Maybe I don’t want to forget. Maybe I want to remember…so I don’t let it happen again. Or maybe I want to hang on to it because I want to be angry right now. Maybe…..just maybe….I hang on because I’m afraid to forget. Maybe I am afraid forgetting is forgiving, or accepting, or blowing it off….or worse yet….condoning. I’m glad Paul said he could forget. He was saintly. Probably why Jesus chose him.

Now the next verb Paul uses I can certainly relate to…straining. Now there’s effort in THAT word. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Sacrifice. Did I mention tears? Oh…the tears. But for some reason I get the idea from Paul that the straining comes second….AFTER the forgetting. AFTER the letting go. Because to not let go means to hold on…and that weights you down. Weights us down. Weights ME down.

But what’s interesting….when you take this passage in context….CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT….you see the bigger picture. Paul talks about not having yet ‘taken hold of it.’ What’s the ‘it’? What is Paul straining for? The secret is found all the way back in verse 10. Check this out…vs 10-14:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

What was he going for? What did he find so absolutely worthwhile that he would go through the pain of forgetting to come out ahead? “Knowing ., the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in death…TO ATTAIN TO THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD.

OK. I’ll give that to you Paul. That’s a pretty lofty thing worth pursuing.

But does it have to cost so much? I LIKE holding on. I LIKE being in control. I LIKE protecting myself from future hurt….and past hurt (one of these posts I’ll explain how that’s not really plausible).

I have not been good at ‘letting go’ my entire life. Until recently. Until the last year to be exact. I had someone tell me a couple years ago “I’m going to have to pry that from your cold dead hands aren’t I?” when we were talking about something I was holding onto. I’m at a different place now.

I can’t tell you ‘how’ to do it. I can’t tell you that you ‘should.’ I can only tell you that I am starting to learn the benefit of it. Oh, there is MUCH I still hold on to. Old habits die VERY hard. But I am starting to learn. I’m hoping the ‘becoming more like Christ’ thing comes quickly on the heels. I feel very empty handed and vulnerable when I let go. Just like in chorus or in acting, the question rages ‘what do I do with my hands?!’ They are used to holding on to things. TIGHTLY. And now they are empty.

Hmm….maybe the best thing I can do is lift them in praise. That might be worth letting go of things….so I can praise Him instead. Hmmmmmmm…Paul might be on to something.

(This week’s theme was discovered in a retreat room chat. More thoughts on letting go can be found at Jenn’s post and Leisa’s at

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