New Year’s Releases :: By Alice Childs

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. They are like pie crusts – easily made, easily broken. I’ve never been one to mess with “good intentions” that I know deep inside I won’t keep.

However, there are a couple of attitude changes that I do hope to try to implement from here on out. I don’t see them as “resolutions” so much as I look upon them as New Year’s “releases.” It may seem to you that I’m just playing a game of semantics, but to me, I see the difference.

Being a true introvert – almost a recluse really – especially as my vision continues to deteriorate, this means that my life is almost always lived within the confines of my house. This is not as great a burden to me as it may seem, because not being able to get out and about really doesn’t bother me like it would many who are used to being able to be out and about at will. I’ve never had the freedom or ability to go and come as I please, so it’s not that big of a deal when I have always been dependent on someone else to get me around. I’m blessed – quite happy and content in that regard.

No, my letting go has nothing to do with coming to terms with my physical limitations. My New Year’s “release” if you will, is my coming to terms with things over which I have no control except for, by the grace of God, my own choosing to “accept the things I cannot change.”

There are some things we all need to let go in whatever time we have left here before Jesus calls for His Church: things that can stick like fishhooks in our minds and hearts and cripple us emotionally. I’ve finally come to terms with these issues that I personally have and feel myself ready to face them head-on. I’ve come to realize that it is indeed not just alright, but necessary to let some things go and move beyond them. Perhaps you have some of these issues as well that are burdening your mind and heart, and I pray that you can do the same.

Do you feel like it’s always you trying to make amends when the other party has repeatedly shown they have no desire to do the same? Then it’s time to let it go.

Let me explain. Since we are all sinners (although believers are sinners saved by God’s unfathomable grace), we all still fall short of God’s perfect righteousness, and therefore we can and do hurt other people by our words and actions. That’s not an excuse or justification for such things, but merely an acknowledgement that we do hurt other people. When we hurt someone, we SHOULD do our best to make amends – to apologize when we have been in the wrong, and to accept another’s apologies towards us if offered. This is what the Lord Jesus expects us to do.

However, once we have done our best to apologize and to attempt to make amends for our misdeeds, then WE are in the clear, both scripturally and emotionally. Once we have humbled ourselves, accepted and acknowledged our own responsibilities in any matter, then that is when we can and should “let go” and release the outcome into God’s hands. When we have “owned up to” any issues we have been responsible for, then as the saying goes, “the ball is in their court.” We are no longer responsible, nor do we need to keep bashing our hearts against an immovable stone.

Once we have done what is required of us by the duty of love, it is perfectly alright to get up, dust ourselves off so to speak, and release from ourselves any feeling of hurt, bitterness or any residual guilt we may feel. Once WE have done what we OUGHT to do, then we are free to move on and leave the past behind. We can always hope for reconciliation, and must be ready to grant full forgiveness with no strings attached should that day ever come and the other party offers it, but it is perfectly right to move on ahead. “Forgetting those things which are past, [we] press on towards the mark of the high calling of God.”

We MUST move on lest we become trapped in a morass of guilt, thereby becoming immobilized by always trying to continue to “make things right” with those who don’t care to do the same. It’s necessary that we all learn to “let go.”

And although we may grieve over the loss of friendship once held dear, or the love, support, and acceptance of a relative who has no more use for us than last month’s leftovers, then it’s not just okay to release our hearts from these poisonous, toxic relationships, but it becomes a necessary thing to do so that we do not become embittered or immobilized – held fast in a quagmire of “always trying to make things better” and sinking deeper into the quicksand of hopelessness by trying to mend a fracture that cannot be mended.

Sometimes, even when we try our hardest, some things cannot be mended – especially if WE are the only ones who WANT to mend them. In cases like this, it’s time to let go and move on.

What about those people who may be members of our own family – siblings perhaps? Or what if the ones who rebuff us are those who used to call themselves our “dearest friends” – those who now treat us as if we are their bitter enemies, or worse, treat us as if we matter not at all to them – as if years – decades even, of friendship never even happened? Or what do we do if we feel that we have been left “holding the bag” all alone as it were, in endeavors that used to be a group effort, but in which now we have been left with all the responsibility falling upon us and upon inadequate shoulders?

In all of these cases, if we have done all within our power to do, and if we have prayed and faithfully done all we CAN do, then these things too must be released in order that we can move on to whatever God may have in store for us to do as we “occupy” until He comes.

These are the things that must be released without bitterness or rancor. This attitude is a change that only God can work within our hearts to accomplish. The hurt, anger, and false guilt that makes us feel responsible – as if somehow all of the “unfixables” is OUR FAULT – needs to be released. Once that step is taken, then we can know that we are at least on the road towards leaving past failures (both ours and theirs) behind, and moving on into the next chapter of life.

As I grow older (and hopefully wiser), I am comprehending in a deeper way what the writer of Ecclesiastes meant when God inspired him to write, “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven.” And if I may be permitted the leeway to paraphrase, there is also a time to hold on, and a time to let go. I am finally at the place of letting go – the place of fully letting go of any expectations of anything changing, or of burdening myself anymore with guilt that is not mine to bear. I have done all that I can.

There is sadness in this place of release, but there is also a great unburdening and lifting of a load your heart can no longer carry. Be at peace with that.