Wednesday marked Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. A year ago in this blog I embarked on what I knew would be a long road: learning to let go of what I couldn’t control. My goal was to work on something that I struggled with in daily life, a task that would make me a better person by the outcome. I still remember my friend Jennifer saying to me that if I figured out exactly how I was going to do it, to let her know. Quite honestly, at the time I didn’t know what I would do or if I could do it. I just knew that I needed to do it because it was something that I believed held me back in my life.
It involved stopping my thoughts (not an easy task!) and listening to loud music in the car (Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” was a powerful one) to distract myself and find motivation and energy in a moment of rumination. By Easter, I knew I was doing better but I also realized that the lesson wouldn’t end there.
As the year passed, learning to let go became imperative as my life continued to change and I started a new journey. Beginning a new Lenten season this week is forcing me to think about what I will do this year.
I have learned that sometimes I have to let go of relationships in my life to allow them to be what they are supposed to be. Contrary to what I might think, I don’t control anything except my own reactions. There are relationships I want to make something more than they are supposed to be and there are others that are tumultuous for various reasons. Whatever the reasons may be, I must let the relationships go to allow them to travel the road they are supposed to.
I am repeatedly reminded of this when I think I have the power to control the direction and frustration sets in when I find that it’s not going where I would like or as I quickly was I would like. Nor do I like when I don’t know the outcome. My irritation with this continues until I remember that I’m not in control. I’m not the one driving. I’m the one doing my part but I’m not leading it. Once I realize that I’m not controlling it and hand the steering wheel back, all is put into balance again.
At that point I am given a sign that all is well if I would just let it be. That will be my Lenten road for this year. The more I cede the power I don’t have, the less of a struggle I will find, and the more I can focus on what I can control. Finally, the better person I will be.
Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D., is an international author and speaker about finding hope after loss and change. She is the author of several books including Rocky Roads: The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief and Ginger's Gift: Hope and Healing Through Dog Companionship. Her first book, based on the suicide of her younger sister Denise, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Si..., inspired siblings around the world in their survival after a loved one’s suicide. She is the President of the American Association of Suicidology and lives in Albuquerque, N.M. Read more about Michelle at www.michellelinngust.com.