Friday, February 18, 2005

Let Go? Did You Say "Let Go"? To Me?

Yesterday, in my real journal, the paper one, the more personal one, I came to see that I have been spending a lot of time lately trying to figure out what to do about several issues in my life, that I am trying to grab at too many things, trying to factor in too many variables. Somehow, I need to relax, to let go (and let God).

And when I hear “let go and let God”, the sassie one in me says “yeah sure, screw it all up, tear it all to pieces and then let go and say to God, here God, You fix it” which does not seem right to me at all.

That is where my confusion comes in. I think I have to at least “sort of” put things back together in order before I let go and let God have it, kind of like picking up a house before the cleaning lady comes, to keep from looking like such slobs. It seems I do not have a grasp of living by grace at all. I think God already knows what a slob I am.

Someone at school was quoting an old Saturday Night routine where the guy says “I’d rather look right than be right”. You know, the old Southern churchy tradition where the family gets all mad and screams and hollers on Sunday morning getting ready to get to church, and when they get there, everybody slaps smiles on their faces and they practically stick to the pews, they are so full of sweetness. She was not referring to me, of course, but if the shoe fits…

There is the fear that I will never actually “be” right, that I will always be a cardboard cutout girl, desperately longing, like the Velveteen rabbit and Pinocchio, to be real, to be right, rather than to just look right.

My habits are so ingrained and I have spent so much time pretending, working on “looking right” and I am so good at it that most people don’t know the difference. I say the right things and I act the right way. My mind knows exactly how to keep the charade going. But my heart knows it is all wrong. It is the recurring theme of my life, my “thorn in the flesh”. I don’t think I will ever get the hang of it, being real, or being right. I’ll just work myself to death on the fake outer layer while ignoring the jewel just below the surface. I’ll have ugly plastic flowers when I could have had fresh ones, pink, sweet-smelling hyacinths.

I am disappointed by a lack of healthy intimacy in marriage, disappointed because my son is struggling and tends to ignore my feelings and my advice. I want those healthy mutually satisfying relationships the therapists imply are available. On the other hand, isn’t that looking outside myself for self-worth? Should my disappointment in my relationships affect the way I feel about myself?

Is it so abnormal to feel, as my sister has said, that really, all we have is ourselves and God and if we stumble into, craft, create or carve any satisfying human relationships at all, they are lagniappe, just a little something extra? In the end, should I let go of my desire for connection, intimacy, for mutual satisfaction in relation with others and be content with just God and I? That is how I made it through many years, by hanging onto the myth that that was really how it was meant to be.

It was not until I started in counseling that I realized there were people who considered my view to be unhealthy, or motivated by fear. And some days, I still don’t quite get what the big deal is about living life as a (guarded) lone wolf. Isn’t that part of being “in the world, but not of the world”? Or is that one of those perversions of truth that I need to work on correcting? I don’t know. All I know is that I have pretty much always been somewhat reserved and guarded. And maybe it is a hilarious paradox for me to say that I do not see that as harmful because, in many ways, I am miserable, feeling disconnected, and caught in some sort of out of body experience where my head spouts all this out like it is perfectly logical to have ten foot walls around one’s heart, while my heart sees the small pockets of sunshine that leak through the cracks and wants so desperately to seek out and savor the warmth. The head cries out “danger, sunburn, skin cancer, heat stroke, you will meeeellllltttttt” and the heart believes the head and withdraws. It is an endless, vicious cycle. Sometimes I wish someone could fix that for me.

I do have responsibilities to do my metaphoric housekeeping, but I do not have the responsibility to hold myself onto the edge of this cliff that I find myself hanging from at this moment. I can allow myself to be held for a moment, and then to be placed back on solid ground. I can trust enough to let go. I do not have the responsibility to sustain myself. I do not have the responsibility to build protective walls around my heart either. When I am trying to hold everything together, to keep my world from falling apart, to protect my heart, I am taking on God’s part of the responsibility.

And the weird thing is, today God reminded me, once again, of my part and His part by way of this
blog that led to another blog, and you can read it for yourself here under the post entitled “Letting Go”, dated January 25. While you are there, read the post called “Pretend”. It is another good one that I needed to hear.

Wonderfully strange, huh? That’s the way God sometimes is. And me too, come to think of it.


  1. oh what a gift you are annie!

    i find that it's in our mess that redemption happens - he doesn't waste anything.

    i read something (somewhere) the other day that said 'practice resurrection', i like that (i'm blogging on it today). that's what grace is all about.

  2. annie, what a marvelous post!

    We do wear our masks well, don't we? We've learned to do the "dance." God has so worked on my heart in this area. He has shown me that I am not alone in my areas of struggle. There are many women who struggle in the same sin as me, subscribe to the same thoughts, fears as me, and on and on...

    He has shown me what freedom tastes like, as He graciously helped me to "dump the junk" and face the wounds of my heart and expose them to the light.

    I encourage you to find a couple or few women that you can be accountable with. We are not meant to walk this life alone (hard lessons!). We desperately need one another.

    Thanks for posting this. It was really insightful for me.

  3. Just wanted to say that I 'hear ya'.

  4. wow, your words resonate with me, as well. i saw you through swollen, tear-filled eyes post on something on my blog the other day and thank God i was able to go back and find you.

    i am glad i did.

    listen, if you find out how to let go without *taking back*, let me know. i grinned at your analogy of cleaning the house before your cleaning lady arrives. my son always says "is nancy coming tomorrow?" for that very reason.

    comforting to know someone else is just like that. thought i cornered the market on same.

    plus, and not to take away from the bulk of your post and pinpoint one thought, in hebrews 4:13:

    And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. He is like the Master Cleaning Guy :)

  5. What really bakes our noodles is that sometimes when we're so busy making sure everything looks right there's the wise one out there that sees it all and sees right through it all and says "Hm.... this isn't right at all...." The wise friend or pastor or counselor or whomever... Anyway, this is a terrific post. How concerned we are with our images.
    I don't have it all together in the healthy intimacy area but God has blessed me with some very healthy individuals as friends who have helped me grow in this area a great deal!
    I've been amazed to find that are some out there who come by some of this stuff a little more naturally than I/we do. It's shocking, but true! :o)

  6. Annie -- I really enjoyed reading your blog! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I really had to chuckle when I read one of the earlier posts about "Annie Oddfellow" and "Sassy Anny" -- I know exactly what you mean!

  7. Gayla,

    I got back to the others by email, but can't seem to get to you that way. Thanks for stopping by.

    Good advice about finding women to be accountable with, I am slowly working in that area.



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