When It's Time to Let Go

It hangs in the air and I feel it as soon as I walk through the door.

I might call this place a storage unit but really it's just a basement room in a building that doesn't belong to me.  For two years, it's held the pieces of a life I used to live, and for every last one of those months, I've felt the deep sadness of loss whenever I've come here.

It's as though the sadness lives here, among haphazard piles of boxes and overturned furniture.

I don't regret the choices I've made to find healing for a body ravaged by illness and a soul broken by loss.  These two years have held beauty and glory and God in all the places I didn't expect to find them.  And God, He tore me out of a life I couldn't stand up under and then laid me down right here in a small corner of the world where I could rest and heal and become.

And oh, I'm so grateful for all of it.

But there's no denying that there's sadness here in the place where I've been storing the past, and I'm starting to wondering if all these boxes are really holding grief instead of my belongings.  I'm remembering back to those days of pulling up roots and I see now how everything I owned was packed up under the heavy rains of loss.  I might've wanted to believe that I was carrying the pieces of a life into a future full of hope and I might've sworn up and down that my life wasn't falling apart.  But it was and it did and, oh, how the heart ripped open along the way.

And all that sorrow, maybe it's found a home here now, in this room with too many reminders of a life for which I still yearn.

I never stay long when I come here.   I hurriedly search through unlabeled boxes, try to find what I need before sad air settles deep, unleashes what I don't want to feel.  Because the truth is, I'm afraid to grieve this loss.

And for a woman who's grieved more losses than she can count, this fear leaves me unsettled.  Of all the things that have been lost, broken, ripped straight out of my hands--why is this the one I can't seem to let go?

I run my hands over these pieces of my history and think I know why I'm afraid.  Because what I've held onto all these months isn't the things packed in boxes.  No, it's something much bigger than anything I own.

It's hope.

Hope for a return of strength and independence.  Hope for a place to call home.  Hope for the rebuilding of a life and the birthing of a family.

Sometimes letting go of yesterday's dreams feels like burying all of tomorrow's hopes.

But hasn't God been teaching me all these months that there's Beauty and Glory and God even in the dying?  That the burying of a life can be the beginning of our greatest healing?  That the laying down of all we have and all we are is the very truest act of hope?

Yes, God pours forth and floods the ground of a soul, but His Truth, it takes time to trickle down through the layers of a life.  I might wish He'd just open me up and invade with Himself, but He's the One Who knit me together from the start and He knows I'd just be washed away by the strength of His Current.  So He waits patiently for a soul to be saturated with the Truth that changes, heals, sets free.  And one by one, the Truth wages war against fears and losses and regrets.

And now I'm standing here holding onto pieces of the past, knowing at long last what I've been doing all along.  I've been shutting out the future He holds by clinging to the past I don't want to release.

Because these boxes, they don't just hold my possessions.  They hold shattered hopes, dreams crushed hard into the ground.  And they hold all the grief over what's been left behind in the wreckage of a life.

But I wrote these words only days ago and I meant every last one of them:  When it's God Who'll unearth us in the Spring, who wants to hold back from laying it all down?

When it's God Who plans my future full of hope, why keep holding onto a past I can't get back?  Why trade away the life He has in store for the one I wish I still had?  Why not bury yesterday's dreams and plant all of tomorrow's hopes in the One Who writes the only stories that matter?

It might take me months, a year even, to do what's needed.  But I know it now that I've got to unpack every box I've carried, let out the sorrow and the loss.  Then I'll put the pieces back together again, pack up hope with everything I own.  Because I won't be holding onto the past anymore.

I'll be planting seeds for the future He holds in His Hand.

It's the laying down of all that we are and all the we have, burying it deep in the soil of the One Who Loves, and waiting in expectation for His Life to emerge within us--this is hope.

Yes, I'll lay it all down, bury it deep, and wait in expectation for the Only One Who bring life out of the dying, beauty out of the burying, and glory out of all the breaking.  Because this is hope.

And I might've named this year Faith, but isn't faith the certainty of hope?  I'm certain now that there's no past that can compare with what He has planned.  And who can deny the joy of waiting for Him to emerge?

I can't and I won't and, oh, there's no telling what He's going to do.  But it's going to be beautiful and glorious and oh-so-full of God.  And I can hardly wait to tell His story.

...visit A Holy Experience today for more writings on hope and faith...


  1. Just let it go!!!!! Get excited about whats coming! Start feeling it, start smelling the wonders of what He has in storage for you. It's becoming!!!! Digest this fact. Take this to heart. You are living His future now!!! Lucky You!!! So exciting!!!! amazing writing!!!!! I see God flourishing in you just by reading this. There's no way that a normal person can express things the way you do. God is in you!!! Your capacity to open your heart to Him so that He can be in you, it's just out of this world!!! I have a long way to go, but, you give me hope! God bless you always!!!!

  2. "I'm starting to wondering if all these boxes are really holding grief instead of my belongings." I know that feeling. So beautifully you describe a difficult life passage. Grace and peace to you in the journey.

  3. @Anonymous: {I'm guessing this might be T. here?} Thank you for your enthusiasm for this "letting go" that I am working through. Your excitement is infectious and you are so very right--His future for me is *now*. Thank you for this much-needed reminder. Many blessings to you, Friend, as you press on through all the hardships to become the person He's called you to be.

  4. @tinuviel: So I'm not the only one who packs up sorrow in cardboard boxes? I thought that might be the case. Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement here. It *is* a hard passage, but aren't those the ones where God is most real and life altering? I am learning this, beginning to embrace the hard paths for all the beauty and glory and God that I know will come through them. May all your boxes full of grief be emptied out of the sadness and filled to overflowing with His Hope, Peace, and most especially JOY.

  5. hi Courtney,

    i found you from your (helpful) comments in "Crumbs", and popped over here.

    i'm so sorry about all the losses you've had to grieve the last few years, and about the fears those losses have engendered. "burying yesterday's dreams", as you put it, can be a desperately hard thing to do--it feels like losing a piece of ourselves, even if (to use a simile of Ann Voskamp's) it's really less like losing a hand than like unclenching a fist. given how hard it is to "unclench", it's easy to wish that God would flood us with His truth straightaway, but as you say, He is patient with us, and asks us to be patient with Him in return.

    i'm praying that, however hard it may be to imagine now, God will bring you to a place where your past, far from being a burden to you, will be a joy, in that you will be able to see God's working *all* things in that past for your good, and for His glory.

    thank you for your post, which has transformed my morning. you write beautifully!!


    p.s.: btw, do you know Sara Groves's (old) song, "Painting Pictures of Egypt"? reading your post, i was reminded of it, and thought you might like it, since it's about clinging to the past and hoping for the future.

  6. @chris: Thanks for stopping by, Chris! I have enjoyed my time over at the table with all the Crumbles and am so grateful to hear your wise words here, too.

    I feel as if I could write a whole blog post in response to your comment {but I will try not to!}. Thank you for reminding me about the unclenching that Ann Voskamp speaks of. That concept resonated with me when I first read it earlier this year. But of course I wasn't ready to see that while I'd opened up immensely to receive God's Grace, I still had one hand holding tight to a bit of the past I didn't want to let go. What joy to finally be here, though, understanding that it's time to unclench this last piece and reach out for what He's got in store.

    And the idea of God asking us to be patient with Him? Such truth. It's hard to remember in the heat of a moment, but always I look back and praise Him for not doing things any faster than He did.

    I *love* that song of Sara Groves'. But I haven't thought of it recently and I'm so glad you brought it up. I shall be listening to it presently because it's definitely apropos here and music always helps me in times like these.

    And "transformed" your morning? I am humbled, new friend, if I've brought even a bit of light into your day. Much grace to you--and thank you again for reading here.


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