The Power of Letting
When I look at the last three post I’ve written, I appear to be all over the place, from Julie, the Cruise Director, to dog bones in my bathwater to soul bullies in the friendly skies. What I’m really writing, though, is field notes of a transformative journey. I can’t promise a coherent thread from one essay to the next because I can’t necessarily see or grasp it in the moment, only in retrospect do I see the strands of connection. What I do know is that God is true to his word and he has asked me a several months ago, while I stared into Grizzly's face, to be willing to let my life change.
I’ve said yes to that. I will let my life change.
That word ‘let’ has been showing up in abundance lately. Letting is hard work. It’s a passive thing, involving the action of someone else or my own inaction and implies loss of control. That is why it’s hard. We let go of something we are holding - an object, an idea, a way of being, an attachment. We let another enter where once we had a boundary; that’s vulnerability. We let someone help us when we used to handle it all ourselves; that’s humility.
To “let” is quite risky, I am learning. It’s also essential to transformation.
In late July, I received a letter from the district attorney informing me that the driver of the car has been arrested. The letter said I had a RIGHT to attend his arraignment. It was bizarre, seeing his name and mine in the same sentence, and then seeing the word VICTIM next to my name. I had not thought of myself in those terms in all these months. It all happened so fast that January afternoon and so much life has happened since then. I honestly never thought they would catch anyone and by late spring was focused on my daughter’s wedding and trying to move on with my life.
I weighed the pros and cons of going and not going to the arraignment since I had a choice. I had the RIGHT to decide. I talked to my counselor about it. He talked to me about managing my expectations. (If I thought his seeing my face would suddenly make him recognize my humanity and he would regret his actions…that was probably unrealistic given the decision he made to participate in such a random crime in the first place.) I talked to my attorney friends and to my attorney son. I called the DA. She assured me that my presence at this hearing had no bearing either way on the judge’s decision. He would simply plead guilty or not guilty and if the latter, a trial date would be set. As a victim (there’s that word again), she said I would be informed of his plea. I decided not to go.
About ten days later I got another piece of paper. This time I glanced out my front window, saw the word ‘sheriff’ on the side of the car parked in the street and the deputy walking up my driveway. I knew that meant he pled not guilty. The officer handed me a subpoena.
The ‘rights’ have now shifted.
He has the RIGHT to face his accuser. Up to this point, I have been nameless and faceless to him. Now he will see my face and know my name. (I have a newfound empathy for people who don’t want to press charges.) Part of me just wants it all to go away. Part of me is angry that I have to go through this process and it isn’t even for the guy who ran up from behind me, tried to grab me, invaded my space and altered my life.
And yet as I write that, I can see that my life may be altered for good. I have found a voice I had silenced and am letting myself use it. I have let go of a false self that was too accommodating and idolatrous of approval. I have let myself be ministered to by those to whom I used to want to appear strong. I have let myself listen to the voice of my Beloved over and over these last few months, through songs and scriptures and people who love me. I have learned to lean into resistance more than I ever had. I’ve let go of measuring and judging and caring whether or not people measure or judge me. I’ve let myself wait when I have could have charged ahead.
The driver, thus far, has not been convinced to give up his accomplice. Both the DA and the counselor tell me it’s improbable that he will. So the resolution I would like will probably not come, and yet I have to submit to the process and show up in court at the end of next month. In dealing with my anger over that, I’ve learned from my good counselor that anger is actually a secondary emotion. We use it to cover primary emotions of fear and hurt, which are much more vulnerable - and who wants to feel those! Anger feels powerful and action-oriented, like fuel in our veins. Fear and hurt feel weak and helpless, like a child cowering in a dark closet.
And yet when I write those words, I see those are the places in me where Jesus is invited to enter. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. When I am weak, he is strong. More than anything else, when he walked the earth, he told his followers not to be afraid, because he was with them always, even to the ends of the earth. When he left here bodily, he promised us the Comforter would come to soothe our pain. He told his followers to wait for it, the Spirit. They did and he came.
I have found his words true over and over these past few weeks. When I let myself be honest about what I feel, I open the door to Jesus. Anger keeps the door barred, but weakness invites his strength; fear welcomes his courage; and pain opens the door for the Comforter to come in.