Sunday, September 25, 2011

Letting Go

 Of all the things I have learned in life, I have yet to learn this  lesson. I can't let go of things, specifically character flaws. I long to keep them just a little longer before I turn them over or give them up.

While serving as a missionary in Missouri, people would often tell me about their trials in life and then say, "But I've just got to let go and let God." I love that idea and admire those with such faith. I am not one of such strength of character.

Jesus taught his disciples that, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

Mustard seed is tiny. Miniscule. It grows into a fairly good-sized bush, by the way. I think there is a double meaning to that scripture. First, if we have faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, we can experience great blessings and miracles. Second, if we have faith like a mustard seed, that is to say that we believe that we can become something greater than we are, we will grow beyond our capacity. We will grow into something we could not imagine to be possible.

I love having my life planned out. I know exactly what courses to take over the next year and a half, what I want to accomplish during that time, where I want to go for grad school, what I want to do after grad school, and so on. There have been times in my life when Heavenly Father said, "Nope. That's not the right path." Frustrated me to no end.

Example: My freshman year of college, I decided I was going to be a high school history teacher. I had everything figured out to do that. I walked into the advisement office to declare my major, and as I walked out, I was struck by the most unsettled feeling. It was like Heavenly Father saying, "I have something different in mind. You need to talk to me about this one." Ugg. And so, I was almost the world's shortest history teaching major.

Lately, I've been learning a lot about letting go and letting God. A lot of it has to do with being humble. We can't have one foot in our will and the other foot in our Heavenly Father's will. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis illustrates this idea beautifully. Writing as if it was Christ speaking, he says:

"Give me all of you! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and    so much of your work. I want YOU! ALL OF YOU! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self---in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart."   

Letting go of our will requires that we swallow our pride. When we are filled with pride, we cannot accept God's will over our own. Trust me. Thankfully, Heavenly Father doesn't force us to accept his will. He waits for us to come around. "Yea, he that truly humbleth himself and repenteh of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed -- yeah, much more blessed  than they who are compelled to be humble..."

It may take some time for me to get to the point of being able to swallow my pride and admit that I can't do it on my own, that I am indeed powerless, and that my life has become unmanageable. I don't know that I'll learn how to completely let go and leave things to God for a long time. Perhaps it's due to a lack of faith or an abundance of pride. 

Often, I feel like the person in the poem in the picture at the top of the post -- I get really frustrated when things aren't going according to my plan. When things take too long, or I don't like the outcome, I often ask why it was that way. Lovingly and gently, but with a kind rebuke, Heavenly Father replies, "What could I do? You wouldn't let go." And so, that's where I am.