I’ve been sitting here reflecting upon all of the ‘lasts’ that happened this week — last day of Middle School, last day of Elementary School, last day at our daycare provider and last day as a 4th grade teacher — and the phrase ‘letting go’ keeps popping into my mind.
When it comes to transitions I don’t usually handle them very well. When good things come to an end, milestones are reached and it’s time to move on it’s never easy. Leaving my comfort zone can be downright terrifying. I do not like when things end…summer vacations, a good book, concerts…feel free to add to the list.
My biggest fear is that I’ll never be able to capture the magic of that particular time period again. Will the next path be disappointing or too difficult? Usually I envision myself flailing around wildly as I transition from one phase to the next and attempt to navigate the unknown. The uncertainty drives me crazy.
Letting go doesn’t mean I can’t look back remembering fondly the years that have already passed like the magical years when my children were little. It just means letting go of the talk in my head that tends to overshadow the memories. Last summer on the way home from a month long epic journey across the country with my family, I became consumed with worry about the future and whether or not I’d be able to handle the start of a new school year. It triggered an extended bout of depression and anxiety that essentially ruined the final leg of the trip.
However, when I catch myself tearing up or panicking because I’ve told myself it’s all over –whatever ‘it’ may be–I have to remind myself that there is a new chapter waiting to be written in which I have the choice to go at it alone in blinding fear or remember that God is with me no matter what. Otherwise I fall into the trap of what ifs.
My kids loved elementary school , but WHAT IF they can’t handle the high school?
This vacation was amazing, but WHAT IF we never do it again?
My kids are growing up and maturing into fine young men, but WHAT IF I can’t handle them being more independent?
This journey we are on is incredible, but WHAT HAPPENS when they move on to college?
I’m feeling joyful and healthy, but WHAT IF I get sick again?
I honestly have no idea what the answer to any of those questions are. Yes, that scares me but only when I dwell on it and obsess over trying to figure it all out before it even happens. I could easily analyze the past in an attempt to predict the future, in the meantime missing out on the present. But fearing the future because of uncertainty is defeating whether its for fear of something bad repeating itself or something good never happening again.
When I’m sick I find this especially difficult to overcome. Being caught in depression I find myself terrified. Will tomorrow lead me back to health? Will it lead to a dark room where I stay in bed for days on end? Will it end in a death wish?
Endless questions bombard me:
Will I ever feel well again?
Can I handle what’s ahead?
Will my brain fail me and I’ll be lost forever?
Will a trigger activate a downward spiral that I’ll never get out of?
I need to let go of the questions.
Have you ever met someone with unwavering faith who is dealing with hardship? You can’t help but notice something different about them. No matter what they’re facing they are unafraid. That does not mean their problem goes away it just means they can face it with confidence knowing God’s in control. They will tell you that they surrender every day and give whatever burden they carry to God and allow Him to take care of them.
The difference is hope. When you believe in your heart that no matter what you are facing God has your back, we welcome the next chapter knowing that with His help you can face anything.
So why not replace the ‘what ifs’ with “Thank You God. I put the next chapter of my life in your hands and I trust it will all work out for good, no matter how scary it seems.”
Thank you God for all of the nurturing people who have been in my children’s lives as they’ve gone through elementary school and middle school. I know whatever happens next you are in control and I have nothing to fear.
Thank you God for this moment that I am able to think clearly and live outside the cloud of depression. I know no matter what happens you will protect me.
We’re always going to face the final pages of the chapters of life on our journey. There’s nothing wrong with being nostalgic as long as we do it with gratitude and fearlessness. In order for me to do that successfully there’s no way I can do it alone. When I try, my mind immediately jumps to the ‘what ifs’ which always weighs me down.
So sure, there were many ‘last times’ for my family this year. However I’m not going to fall into the trap of believing the best part is over. I’m going to have to let go of the need to be in control and wanting to predict the future in order to move on.
God will be hearing a lot from me in the days to come but I know that’s what He wants and I can count on that. I’m letting go of fear and am ready for the next chapter. Bring it on!
Philippians 4:6-7, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.