Letting Go Is Complicated

Dear Elsa, Letting go is complicated.

Things stick with us long past we have told ourselves to surrender it to God.

Memories of past failures haunt us. Words we wish we hadn’t spoken, or we had spoken swirl in our minds.  Scenes replay reminding us of what we could have done differently.  Wounds refuse to close as we battle to practice forgiveness.  “If only…”  Hurt from relationships linger in the depths of our hearts. Life situations seem to be on the brink of spiraling out of control if we don’t hold on tightly. We wrestle with control of relationships and people that won’t change or get fixed if we don’t somehow find a way to stay in the driver seat. 

I want to turn it all over to God, to let go and place it in his hands, but how do you do that when you feel stuck?

All these thoughts were swirling in my heart as I arrived for my day of silence at the Ruah Spirituality Center. As I sat with a spiritual director, the events of the last year just poured out of me. She lit a candle, said a prayer, and passed me a box of tissues. After sorting through her desk for a few minutes sat down in front of me. In her hand was a folded piece paper. She said, “I want you to spend some time today praying as you normally would, but no more than thirty minutes at the time. Get up, take a break, walk around, listen to God. And when you are ready and settled, find a spot, and pray through these reflections.” She held my hands, looked me in the eyes and said,

“God has brought you here to begin a process in you. Surrendering things, letting go, it’s not a one-time deal. Return to these as many times as you need in the coming days and weeks.”

I took her words and advice to heart.  I spent time praying, walking a labyrinth, sitting in a grotto, eating a good lunch, and then I settled into a beautiful spot on the grounds. With a deep breath, I prayed through these reflections, asking the Holy Spirit to guide me in releasing and letting go. They were exactly what my soul needed that day.

Maybe it’s what your soul needs today.

These are a set of reflections on how to let go provided for me at the Villa de Matel. Each one of us has a need to let go on some level. Find which ones apply to your inner tendency to react and/or deal with others. Some of us need to get in touch with the inner rebellious child that will never take an order or what appears to be a command from others. Or some may have to get in touch with the real burden of sorrow that is felt by you but blamed on others, even God. Some of you need to let go of losing a loved one. Or some of us need to learn to live with heartache which we just cannot let go of. We each need to let go in order to achieve a right attitude toward choices in our lives.

  • To let go doesn't mean to stop caring; it means I can't do it for someone else.

  • To let go is not to cut myself off; it is the realization that I cannot control another person.

  • To let go is not to enable; but allow learning from natural consequences.

  • To let go is not to be in the middle arranging or manipulating the outcomes; but to allow others to effect their own outcomes; learning from their own mistakes.

  • To let go is to admit some powerlessness; which means that the outcome is not in my hands.

  • To let go is not to try to change or blame another person; I can only change myself.

  • To let go is not criticize or regulate anyone; but to focus on myself and what I can become.

  • To let go is not to judge (making myself bigger than God), but to allow another to be human.

  • To let go is not to regret the past; but to grow and live for the future.

  • To let go is to fear less and love more.

I’ve returned to these many times since that day remembering that letting go is a journey, a process in which God works in us to release our regret, worry, anxiety, impatience, need to control, bitterness, hurt, resentment, disappointment and broken relationships. And in doing so, moves us forward trusting him and loving him even more.


If you found these reflections helpful and would like to use them in your own spiritual journey and prayer time, I’ve provided a copy HERE for you.

Luann Riley