Letting go is tough. But so much of life depends on that simple concept of release.
Sometimes we don't even realize the baggage we are dragging along the journey of life. We think we've let go of certain things that have long bothered or distressed us but every so often we hit situations that remind us of a friendship gone cold, a loved one's selfish behavior, somebody's hurtful words, a painful move that had to transpire, or an unexplained awkward ending that was never resolved. We think we've moved on, but the truth is, we never fully did.
It's become apparent to me recently that I've been carrying unresolved situations for too long, and it's affecting my relationships and enjoyment of my life now. Part of my mind and heart is still stuck back in situations that ended badly years ago, and while maybe I've forgiven the people involved, I've never totally put the issue to rest. There are people who long ago stopped communicating with me (for whatever reason) or I distanced communication with them due to poor choices in their life...and yet, their phone number is still in my phone. Others I've kept mulling over wording for a possible letter or some form of re-establishing a connection that most likely will never happen. I'm still holding out some hope that time maybe changes these folks minds or that I can somehow help or influence situations that, in reality, there is no investment or relationship to be had anymore. The other people have moved on. Even God has moved on and is doing many new things all around me. But I'm still holding on. I'm refusing to catch up to where God actually is now.
See, for those of us who love helping people, it's often hard to know when to stop. We can often hold out in circumstances with people that we should probably back out of simply because we think we can rescue them, save them, fix them, or change their situation. We think it would be unloving to set boundaries and step away when those boundaries have been crossed. We see it as insensitive if we told the people that our help seems to be no longer needed or appreciated.We agonize over the fact that while it may not be best for us to stay in the situation, somehow we think we need to. Maybe things will turn around. We feel badly that we can't see a story through to the end, instead of realizing that God may have only wanted us to help for a season. Perhaps He wants somebody else to take over where we left off in the process of helping. But we don't want to see it that way. We think we - and only we - can make the difference in certain situations or people's lives. And so we stay. We put ourselves in a bad place because we are overly caring about other people's circumstances or feelings. We don't seem to be able to tell ourselves that it's okay to let go.
But I'm starting to see now just how detrimental this can be. When you keep holding on with closed fists, your hands cannot receive the blessings and miracles of what God is doing today. When you're stuck in the past, you live in vain regrets over things you could've or should've said or done, and it takes strength out of relationships and situations you honestly can be helping in the now. When you allow previous hurts to keep driving decisions or choices you make today, you begin to live in fear of them happening again...and again...and again. You miss out on so much because you're still back thinking that the old might come back or a fresh start in a bad situation might happen. All the while, others have probably forgotten or moved on entirely and you're still reflecting on how you did (or didn't) say such-and-such, how you probably could've (or should've) kept going instead of backing out, etc. More importantly, God has moved on and we refused to come along with Him.
Loving others is important. Nobody should be pushed way who truly needs our help and prayers! But there comes a point where we limit our productivity for God when we don't let go soon enough. Sadly, there are situations that just don't turn out the way we thought they would. People maybe asked for our help and we gave it, but it turned out to not be what the people wanted to hear. Relationships where we thought there was agreement turned out to have little in common at all. Perhaps even those we supposed there was shared life-purpose ended up leaving us because they couldn't follow God to the extent that we felt called to. There are so many situations that can happen where we invest ourselves into others and the return of investment is minimal at best. We put in 80% effort and get 20% results...or maybe less. It is at this point that we must begin to listen to when God says, move on.
While it may take a very hard conversation to explain to the other party why you're backing out, the maximizing of your giftings and future serving others depends on it taking place. Lately, I've had a string of hard endings like this. I've had to end communication with some people, stop trying to reach folks who long moved past me, tell others my help is no longer affective for them and that I pray they find someone better to meet their needs. I've even had to delete numbers out of my phone of people who were once close to me. So many memories (good and bad) have had to be put to rest. But this process of shutting the door on yesterday, leaving what happened buried once and for all in the grave of time, turning over the hurts of others to the hand of God, has been healing of sorts for me. Healing in that I'm no longer responsible for what happened. I no longer have to keep holding onto some little thread of hope that things things might have switched. I've had to get to the point where I see that it's no longer expedient for me that I continue in situations where I do not have any influence anymore. (Or maybe I never did in the first place!)
In order to be in step with God, I must forget what's behind and rather press into what's ahead. I must catch up to where God is. So many good things are happening in my life (and most likely yours, too) but if we're like those runners in a race who constantly look back over their shoulder to see whose behind them, we will slow down ourselves and limit our chances at succeeding at being the best us we can be. We will limit our ability to live our one life well.
I'm to the point where I want to be fully invested in only those people and situations where I can truly affect positive change. If the person isn't wanting to be helped (regardless of if they tell you so), if somebody honestly does not want to change (even if they say they do), if you're stuck in situations where it's doing greater harm to you to stay in it than it is helpful to the other people, don't be afraid to seek God's blessing and walk away in total peace of mind, knowing you can no longer be responsible for their feelings or choices. Let God do the rescuing, the saving, the fixing, the helping. We can pray. We can love. But there is such a thing as caring too much. And that is what we must be careful about.
I don't know what it is that God may be asking you to release and let go of. But I do want to encourage you to take that step, hard as it is. So many blessings and good things will come as a result of us doing so.