Monday, September 8, 2014

Letting Go

I've been putting off my post on this subject for awhile, but I just can't any longer. It's time.

I doubt my experience is unique or unusual. In fact, this is exactly why I have to write about it. Because it's something we all have to do at one point in our lives or another. Or many.

I'm admittedly very bad about letting go. I've had a hard time letting go of expectations, of emotions, of situations, of people. You name it, I hold onto it. It's something I've spent the last few years working on, and some days I'm better at it and other days I'm just not.

I've written a bit already about letting go of my stuff as my family goes through this downsizing process. Let me tell you, that's actually been the easy part. When it comes down to it, it's the people we are leaving in this move that make me want to stay.

But before I go into my little place of sorrow and grief and joy and memories with all the wonderful friends we have in this area, I want to put my life in perspective.

I've been preparing for this move, this change, for quite some time. Our plans have materialized over the past year and solidified in the last few months. I have time to go through my things and choose what I keep, what I give away, what I treasure. I get to choose where I live and how.

I've been thinking about people who do not have this advantage. People who have to pack up their homes on short notice. People who don't get to choose where they live. People who have to leave behind their treasures, their homes, their families.

I started by thinking about the dust bowl migrants of the 1930s. Many were forced to leave behind their established homes and bring with them only what they could carry. They moved to new places where they weren't always welcomed and didn't feel at home. They faced hardships, troubles and persecution that I've only read about.

Then I was reminded of some of the regrettable horrors in the modern world. Peter Ford works on Christian-Muslim relations in Lebanon and spoke in my area yesterday. He mentioned two of his students whose families were forced out of their towns by Syrian rebels. After the rebels took over, the government bombed the town in an effort to reclaim the area. The families returned to nothing: their homes were demolished, their possessions destroyed, their town forever changed.

There are so, so many people around the world in awful situations like these. Their choice of life and home and belongings is ripped from their grasp.

Keeping this in mind, I can cherish my friends, my family, the house I'm leaving, the belongings I'm selling and giving away and hold them all in highest esteem. I can be brave enough to open my heart to a new house, fewer things, a new town, and new friends.

I can learn to let go.

The big question is, what can I do to help those who are in horrible situations? I can give financially to relief organizations in war-torn countries like Syria. I can send school supplies or medical supplies when they are collected.

But I can also start here and now, every day, by showing kindness to my immigrant neighbors. I can smile at and accept those who think, worship or dress differently than I do. It's not "Go big or go home". I don't have to donate a million dollars or quit my day job. It's the "little" things that can also make a difference.

If you have something to let go, take a deep breath and go ahead. And then show a little kindness to those around you who may not be so fortunate.

Here's to letting go!