“Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.”- Ecclesiastes 7:10
“Just hold on loosely but don’t let go. If you cling to tightly you’re gonna lose control.”- 38 Special
“You can only lose what you cling to.”- Buddha
Biblical wisdom, 38 Special, and Buddha all have one thing in common. The practical knowledge that holding on to anything too long or too hard is unproductive at best and destructive at worst.
When we cling on to the past we unintentionally do a few things:
- We confess a lack of faith. Believing that God doesn’t have good in mind for us any longer. That our best and most productive days are behind us. Thinking that he provided before but He will not again.
- We block the blessings coming to us if we can’t get over the ones that have moved on. That girl obsessed with the boy she lost won’t see the great guy in front of her. Or if she does, she’ll drive him away by talking about the boy in her past. If you’re holding onto suitcases full of pain from the past, you can’t grab hold of your future.
I went for a promotion at my old job once. I wanted it but when I went to interview, I was very nonchalant about it. I knew as the words came out of my mouth that I seemed unmotivated and a bit arrogant as if the position was owed to me. Yet I could not stop. Frivolous and ridiculous words continuously flowed from my mouth. I continued about my day afterward knowing full well that I had completely blown it.
As I was doing laundry a few nights later it hit me. A spiritual stronghold of mine is believing that I have to protect myself. I will often do that by holding on to things with a death grip. I was once again holding on to control. I wanted to control my image. I felt in my heart that if I really went for the job and didn’t get it, I would look foolish. So I didn’t go all out for it and actually sent the message that I didn’t really care about the job.
I was holding onto a perception, and doing so hindered my growth. I held on to what was, at the expense of what could be. I realized all of this in a sudden revelation. I talked about it with people I trusted, prayed through the image related issues, and ultimately released it. I let go of the (false) control that clinging to a certain image gave me. Doing that freed me. I could now step into the truest expression of myself.
The next time that position became available I dressed for the part, brought my resume, brought a letter of recommendation, and came prepared to answer any and all possible questions that could come my way. I nailed the interview and got the job.
I would hold that position for two years before stepping down, and in that time I would grow professionally by leaps and bounds. I perfected the art of telling parents very difficult news in a compassionate way (Ex: The window your child broke with his longboard will cost you $1k). I learned to coat my seething rage into skillfully crafted emails, which disguised my moments of unbridled frustration as “teachable moments” for the receivers. These administrative tasks that I learned have led me to the position I’m in now.
There is an alternate reality where I never tried though. A world where I let my obsession with my image get the best of me. There would have been no professional growth and I would never know that I could do the job. Neither would anyone else. Ironically, continuing to hold on too tightly to being viewed in a successful light would have caused me to fail.
You never get what you want when you hold on too tightly to the past. If you hold on loosely, you can lose gracefully and try again later. You can let go of that person or place when the time comes. You can move on from the “what if” and “why” questions that tear your soul apart. You can take steps of faith. You can show God that you know His plans for your life, are better than your plans for your life.
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”- CS Lewis