This post represents my lifetime experience of letting go and letting God, at least the major points. There is so much more that I could share, but then, that would turn into a memoir. ; ) This will encapsulate a lifetime of letting go in about five minutes.
There is a Prayer for Letting Go along with a Letting Go Meditation MP3 from my CD called Let it Go that I offer for free. With it, I send out a series of emails to help you to let go. Sharing my story in one of these emails generated so many responses, that I thought it best to share it here. After you read it, you’ll understand why I can speak about letting go from experience! But first, a little back story context.
My Image of God
Since I was a little girl, my image of God was male. After all, Jesus calls God Father. Like many, I had the image of a white-bearded, white-robed authority figure seated on a throne up in the sky looking down on me, and judging my every action. I never measured up. God was to be feared. Simply stated, God was distant, separate.
My Male Role Models
The male role models in my life didn’t help the male image of God. At the age of four or five, I was repeatedly molested by an older, male neighbor. I never told anyone.
All I remember is feeling punished somehow, because he kept me from playing with the other children. That’s what I wanted to do, not be with him.
At home, I was the apple of my father’s eye for the first five or six years of my life. That suddenly changed.
He became very angry. Coming home from work, he would storm through the front door screaming. The verbal abuse wasn’t directed at me, but at my mother. I would learn that the tirades were a result of his drinking.
My father worked at a local brewery. One of the perks was all the fresh beer you could drink. That perk wasn’t enough, so he stopped at a tavern on the way home for the hard stuff.
I felt abandoned physically and emotionally. My senses were on heightened alert not knowing what would happen when my father came home each day. Thankfully, on most days, he would pass out for the night.
My mother was British. They met during World War II. My father had been a decorated war hero flying 39 missions on B-24s as one of the best bombardiers in the Army Air Corps.
Whenever I would cry, my mother would quickly tell me to get-it-together. She wasn’t mean about it. That was her way of coping. We never talked about my father’s violent out bursts. It was confusing to me. I coped by stuffing down my feelings.
Church was a safe haven for me. We had a strong youth group. They provided me with love and acceptance. God, however, provided no comfort.
The message from the pulpit, however, reinforced my image of the great score keeper in the sky. I had an angry earthly father at home and a wrathful heavenly Father at church. I repeatedly heard the message that I was a wretch, a miserable sinner. I believed it whole-heartedly.
Hungry for Love
I was so hungry to be loved. I literally fed that hunger with food. Eating temporarily satisfied that hunger until I started developing a weight problem. With even more self-loathing, I would go on drastic diets. Eventually, I turned to bulimia as a solution. It was a perfect metaphor because I could eat whatever I wanted, then purge for my transgressions. There was one problem, I didn’t lose weight. (I share all of my story how I lost the emotional, spiritual, AND physical weight in The Freedom to Eat – 10 Secrets for Lasting Weight Loss and Inner Peace.)
My father left when I was eighteen years old. The house was finally peaceful. I saved my money to go to Bible college.
My mother would have been an opera singer if the war had not come. I was blessed to be able to sing and decided to be a voice major. The underlying desire to attend a Bible college was to get a MRS degree (code initials for finding a husband). I met someone from Manitoba, Canada. I was from St. Louis, Missouri. He was a senior. I was a freshman. The relationship was not strong enough to last the geographical divide, so I never heard from him after a few brief conversations. In my mind, I was abandoned once more.
Taking Control and Depending On No One
I quit college and returned home. Music was important to me, but I realized that it wasn’t going to be a livelihood. I loved music, art, and business and decided to earn a business degree. I landed a job as a part-time receptionist at an advertising agency. That one position turned into a thirty-year career.
In the 1950’s there were very few careers for women. My mother was a homemaker. She stayed with my father, even through the abuse because she was trapped. I vowed to never depend on anyone, even God.
From the start of my career and for twenty years of my adult life, I left God and my faith behind. I did quite well without God’s help. I was in a twenty-year marriage, had a son, built a successful career, reputation, acquired a dream home, luxury cars, designer clothes, jewelry, and had a full social calendar. On the outside, I was rich. On the inside, I began to feel spiritually bankrupt.
Waking Up and the Start of Letting Go
When my son was seven years old, I wanted to find a church home. I wanted to find the God of love that I knew deep down in my being had to exist. I found God at First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood, Missouri.
I joined the choir. My choir director worked with me with one-on-one lessons. During a lesson, he abruptly stopped, swung around on the piano bench, looked me in the eye and barked, “Why won’t you let go?!!?”
In that moment, I woke up. He was talking about my voice not my life! But I knew why I wasn’t letting go. I was living a life of shoulds. I was in a marriage that wasn’t working. I was in a career that was sucking the life out of me. In three words: I was lost.
After much prayer, counseling, and soul searching, I let go of my marriage, career, dream home, and left my prior life behind.
I began seeking God in earnest. I let go of the unworthiness, shame, and false teachings that weighed me down.
The thirty pounds I struggled with melted away. Stuffing and numbing out were no longer coping mechanisms. The world was brighter. My body, mind, and spirit were lighter.
Getting to the Deep Wounds to Heal
Growing up, I had always wanted to be an artist. In kindergarten, I won the best picture drawn. The reward was that it was displayed on the school calendar for the year.
There were many more masterpieces that I created and brought home.
Our house had two bedrooms. I have one sibling, a brother who is seven years older than I. He had the one bedroom and my parents had the other.
I slept in the living room on a fold-out sofa, much like a futon. There was no dresser or storage for my things. The artwork collected on the living room coffee table along with some books that my grandmother sent me from England.
One day, when I got home from school, the coffee table was completely clear. I asked my father where all of my books and artwork were. He screamed at me, “I got tired of the clutter and threw them in the trash!”
I sprinted out the door to the trash can. The trash truck had already come. All of my treasures were gone.
There was no discussion like, “Honey, we need to find a place for your things.”
My father threw me in the trash that day. My art was trash.
I realized after my mother’s death that she had abandoned me too. We all lived in our little silos. She did not come to my aide or comfort me in this loss.
My walls of self- protection were built so high that I didn’t let God in either.
Letting Go and Letting God In
All the past is past. I’ve learned from it, but I don’t wallow in it. While I turned away from God, God never stopped pursuing me. I’ve finally let go of my control (most days) to let God in.
God NEVER stops loving us. God is always with us, in whatever we are going through.
That is why I write books, these emails, and create meditations. They are all tools to help heal. Until you let go, heal the hurts and brokenness inside, and fully allow God to love you, you will continue to suffer.
We are not separate from God. God is with us, always.
Letting go continues, on some days, to be a moment-by-moment practice. But with practice comes progress (not perfection).
I’ve been taken out of the trash can and bathed in the river of God’s love. God called my artist to play again. That’s what my book, God Notes – Daily Doses of Divine Encouragement is about. They are daily notes from God, a play on words, encouragement to know Whose we are, beloved, whole, precious, children of God. May the words that God put on my heart touch your heart, too. May you know God and the love God has for you.
The Psalmist says, Be still and know that I am God (meaning of be still may surprise you). I can say from a lifetime of experience that life is brighter and lighter when you practice letting go and letting God. I hope that my story will help you to do the same.
To letting go,