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HOW I LEARNED TO LET GO

Are you afraid of change? Join the club. In fact, I am president of that club. I run the campaign every year, sharing my battle cry, “But things are good right here!” I look out at the audience, and see all the heads nod in unison. Yes, things are good right here.

Even as I say these words, I am cognizant of those who have felt quite the opposite. That things are not good right here. That things are not good right now. I hear you. I feel the weight of that pain.

The heaviness of the desperate feels like a boulder at the bottom of my heart. This boulder expands my heart. This boulder is a reminder that we belong to each other.

So is change good? Yes and no. Change is a funny thing. It’s elastic and expansive. It turns even the hardest stones to jelly. The idea of it led me to write my first book, These Are the Moments, where I tried to write around, through and about the idea of whether or not people could change.  

To be honest with you, while I tried to leave the answer nuanced and gray, I had written the solution in my own head. Nope, people can’t change. You are who you are. The end. Good day, sir.

And then.

Oh, and then.

Fair warning, this is about to get Jesus-y. But before you go scurrying away, if you’re so inclined, bare with me for a moment. No matter your belief system, we all change. We all fall. And, hopefully, rise.

Where was I? Oh, yes. And then…

I changed.

That’s right. Talk about a plot twist, am I right?

Here’s what happened. (Welcome to the inner workings of my personal life. You get a front row seat.) In high school, I was a youth group-going, honk-if-you-love-Jesus person. I hope you caught that A Walk to Remember reference.

I was that girl. And I genuinely loved my life. I was so sure. Life was so clear. If you’ve read These Are the Moments, Wendy’s struggle very much mirrors my own. I dove into the drama of my life, distracting myself so deeply that I slowly shoved God out of my life. I thought I could handle it all.

Turns out? I’m not so great at handling things solo. I was emotionally up and down. I was physically all over the place: college, then Ireland, then Disney, then Houston, and I was running ragged. When I finally got serious about writing my book, I started to heal.

Moving back home was the next big step toward full-on freedom. I curled myself back into the folds of my family, my hometown, my rock. I rested. I let my speedy little runaway train of a self take a moment to pause.

I didn’t realize it, but I wasn’t just making decisions in my life. I was answering calls. To be clear, God doesn’t call my cell phone like M in James Bond. He doesn’t contact me on the phone with quick instructions like, “Bravo, head to the church. After work. Bring thy rosary.”

But looking back, I can see the clear trajectory that led here. The series of small yes’s that got me back to a good place in almost every aspect of my life. There’s a story there. There’s a reason there.

When I faced God again, my hands filled with all the baggage and hurt and numbness that I’d been collecting for the past few years, I clung tighter for a moment. I identified with that garbage pile I stacked up. Like I earned this. I deserved this.

Have you ever felt like that? Feeling that you can’t go back? Feeling that you don’t deserve forgiveness or love or second chances? I don’t know your story, but I’m guessing the answer is yes.

So there I was, clutching to a pile of lies, and God stepped in.

“Let go.”

I couldn’t.

But I could take small steps. I could say yes to a role in a musical, filled with God-loving people. I could say yes to moving into an apartment in the city. I could say yes to making new friends.

“Let go.”

Not yet. This garbage is who I am now, right? This story I’d written myself. This path I’d chosen. I couldn’t just erase who I became, could I?

I started to read the Bible again, every day. I wondered about who God was again. Having spent my whole life learning about God, I took all that knowledge for granted. It had boiled down to a textbook facts. I had forgotten my role in the story.  

“Let go.”

In the Bible, Jesus heals. The blind. The lame. The sick. People that society couldn’t even look at without gagging. He stands up for prostitutes. He eats with sinners and taxpayers.

So, why couldn’t I let go?

So, why exactly did I think my choices were bigger than his cross?

I let go.

And now, open-handed, open-hearted, I could receive Him again.

It’s not a simple one-and-done deed. It’s every day. It’s a daily practice. I don’t have to hold everything in my own weak little arms. I don’t need to get everything right every day. I just need to keep bringing all of that to the foot of the cross.

My shame.

My faults.

My fears.

So, yes, I am changing. I am becoming more myself. I am transforming, feeling the elastic, stretchiness of change again, and I’m giving God room to work.

Things may get a little Jesus-y over in this corner. But as promised, I’m sharing my life, thoughts and feelings, so this is a significant part of that. Things will also get a little silly, giddy and confetti-ish in this corner, too. Because, some things never change.

As always, all are welcome to this table.