The Need to Let Things Go
By Mike Glenn
OCTOBER is a fickle month. Depending on the day, and sometimes even the time of day, the temperature can vary 30 or 40 degrees. During the day, it’ll be in the upper 60s or 70s, and in the evening, it’ll be in the 30s. If you dress for the cold, you end up hot. Dress for the heat, and you end up cold. This means I end up getting most of my cardio workouts taking my various sweaters up and down the stairs. Usually, on about my third or fourth trip, I begin to question whether or not I really need all these sweaters I have accumulated.
The obvious answer is no — but not so fast. First, there are my Christmas sweaters. There are only a few days a year I can wear my Christmas sweaters. Then, there are the sweaters I’m going to wear as soon as I lose a few more pounds. There are my really-cold-day sweaters and my not-so-cold-day sweaters. Trying to wear all of these sweaters can sure put a lot of pressure on a guy. I probably need to get rid of some of these sweaters. I certainly would have a lot more room in my closet if I did.
We even have an extreme example of the need to clean out closets, rooms, and entire houses from a television show about people who collect stuff and then, for whatever reason, can’t get rid of it. You know how the show goes. A family member will call the show because he’s concerned about someone. A crew will show up, knock on the unsuspecting person’s door, and then go room-to-room in the house, filming the mess. There are rooms filled with books, furniture, magazines, newspapers, food stuff, pizza boxes, electronics, and clothes — all stacked from the floor to the ceiling in every room of the house. Sometimes, the show makes you a little sick. Other times, it makes you a little sad.
If you think about it, we’d all have a lot more room in our lives if we took the time to clean our closets. No, I don’t mean the ones in your bedrooms or hallways of your homes. I mean all of the places we stuff our unresolved issues. All of us have storage bins in our souls, places where we put things until we’re ready to deal with them. We have closets, basements, attics, and cubbyholes all stuffed with anger, disappointments, broken dreams, betrayals, secret sins, and other things we aren’t willing to let go of and don’t want anyone else to know about. Psychologists call this repression. We have another word for it — hoarding.
I wonder what our lives would look like if we could shoot a video that would show the crammed closets and piled up rooms of our souls. How does an unforgiven act of a friend look after it’s been hoarded for years? How dark does a secret sin grow after being pushed deeper and deeper into the recesses of our souls? How sharp are the shards of the broken dreams we’ve left lying around?
See what I mean? Left untended, the soul can become sick and dirty, a place unfit to live.
October is a transition month where I live. Transition means things are changing, and it’s time to let some things go in order to make room for what’s ahead. This is the forgotten promise of soul work. We’re not throwing things out just to throw them out. We’re throwing things out to make room for the new things God wants to do in our lives. The goal isn’t to become empty but to make room for the next thing God wants to do.
Most of us are in some kind of transition. We’ve retired or are getting ready to retire. The kids have finally moved out. Things are changing and this is the time to get ready for the new things coming.
So, open your soul and let a little light in. Throw out what is no longer useful or needed. Forgive someone who needs to be forgiven. Grieve what needs to be grieved. Then, let it go, and love someone who needs to be loved.
Make some space. Give God a lot of room to work in your life.
MIKE GLENN is the executive editor of Mature Living and serves as senior pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tenn. Follow his blog mikeglennonline.com.
This article originally appeared in Mature Living, October 2014. Subscribe.