Being open involves letting go

by Kristin on February 4, 2013

in Culture, ideas & paradigms

Photo by richardefreeman

When I wrote my 2013 “One Word” post a month ago, it was with a certain amount of sheepishness. After all, I was choosing the same word I chose for 2012, and then promptly forgot all about:


I decided it was fitting to try to be open again to that word in my life, and also to be open to new ways of keeping it close through the year. I’ll be blogging about openness on the first Monday of every month (that’s today!), and several friends will be doing the same with their words, on their blogs. (If you’re on Twitter you can find their posts and join in using the hashtag #OneWordUpdate.)

In January, I found myself coming up against the opposite of my One Word more often than I would like, but in many ways it was exactly where I needed to start. We can’t always just decide to claim more of something in our lives and then make it happen. Often we need to first make room for it, clearing away the obstacles.

In my case, clinging to distractions, worries and hurts in my life keeps me from being open. I can’t simultaneously hold something tightly AND open my hands to something new.

So in January, this became a theme: Being open involves letting go. I felt the inner conflict between clinging and letting go sharply as Jason and I sat on an airplane a couple of weeks ago, heading to New York City.

Each time I get on an airplane without my children, the experience is one of emotional as well as physical distancing. I don’t mean that my love for them changes—well, maybe it becomes more fierce—but as we gain momentum on the runway and lift into the sky, I have to practice an emotional letting go. I can’t simultaneously cling to my daughters and fly away.

The discipline felt extra challenging this time, as Jason and I flew east. I was worried about all kinds of things involving my daughters (not to mention worrying about our dog, who has had a few seizures and was being cared for by a couple of friends). The weight of the worry threatened to keep me anchored at home. There were logistical worries and emotional ones, all mixed into a weak broth of general worry that was impossible to identify. But I knew, at the end of the day, that my staying home wouldn’t help a thing. The girls were scheduled to be at their dad’s house, anyway, and I don’t interfere with his time with them unless I’m really needed. There was no real reason for me to stay home, only the false impression that I would somehow be more in control.

As the plane gained altitude, I closed my eyes, put my head on Jason’s shoulder, and set in motion a mantra: letgoletgoletgoletgoletgoletgo…

It wasn’t easy, but I did it. By letting go, I opened myself to other important things: quality time with Jason; new sights and sounds and experiences to inspire and refresh me; a much-needed visit with one of my oldest friends.

And I needed to let go for the sake of letting go, too. Being open to going out of town gave me a much-needed reason to release my grip on all that was weighing on me—a reason to remind myself that I can’t micro-manage and control everything. I need to be open to the role others play in my life—from my girls’ dad and stepmom to our friends who were happy to care for our dog—and I need to be more open to trusting God. Knowing what to let go of, and when, is the first step toward more openness in my life.

What do you need to let go of in your life, to make room for something new? And if you chose One Word for yourself this year, have you thought about the word’s opposite and its role in your life?

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  • emmillerwrites

    This is wonderful: “I can’t simultaneously hold something tightly AND open my hands to something new.”

    And such good questions! My one word is “peace.” I guess the opposite of that would be “conflict.” I don’t have a lot of conflicts in my life… and I know this is because I’m a serious conflict avoider. I’m going to have to make the effort to stay put when conflict comes up this year. You know the Proverb, “A harsh answer turns away wrath?” It may not be harsh, but I do have to give an answer, and not avoid uncomfortable situations.

    • kt_writes

      See? The opposite of our words *does* seem to have some significant role in our lives. Your example is particularly interesting! Perhaps the road to true peace must travel through that land of uncomfortable situations? (Do I sound like a fortune cookie yet?)

      • emmillerwrites

        I’m going to think of you as my own personal fortune cookie from now on. ;) And, yes, I already feel God elbowing me, “You know we’re going to work on this this year, right?”

  • Margaret Feinberg

    Kristen, that picture is amazing!

    • kt_writes

      I love it, too! If only I had taken it. :) Oh well, I’m happy to share intriguing images no matter where they come from.

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  • Jennifer Luitwieler

    Darn you, challenging me like that. I have a post I haven’t published yet about letting go of. This with my kids, and I have to say, it is nearly physically painful for me. Serious.

    I know, too, that freedom of putting aside the worry or whatever, and just being where you are right now feels like a drug.

    I am thankful I know you. I am chewing on this: claiming something without making room for it.

  • Tammy Perlmutter

    “We can’t always just decide to claim more of something in our
    lives and then make it happen. Often we need to first make room for it,
    clearing away the obstacles.” I totally agree with this!! That clearing away can feel like so much work, and keeping it cluttered can be a nice distraction from actually doing or seeing the things we need to!! I’m proud of you for working so hard on letting go!!