Recently, I was smacked in the face with a memory when came across one of my husband’s high school girlfriends on Facebook. Instantaneously, the Disney song “Let It Go” ran through my mind.
One of my “friends” is “friends” with her. I clicked and there she was. That was high school. So what, right?
We’re all mature adults now. Well, yeah, NOW we’re mature adults but 30 years ago we weren’t. An incident that I’ll refer to hereafter as “THE THING” stirred up bad blood between this girl and me and (as you probably guessed) the BOY was at the center of it.
Again, what’s the big deal? Well, I married the boy AND decided to keep “THE THING.”
But, long before my husband asked me to marry him, he had stuffed “THE THING” into an airtight container (sealed with Gorilla Glue) and shoved it on a shelf way in the very back corner of his mind. Because that’s what men do.
Even though a lot of time had passed (from wall phones to cell phones) and I had agreed to marry him, I swore an oath to hang on to “THE THING.” I fed it, watered it, and nurtured it like it was a fledgling infant. Sure enough, as all things that are well cared for and nurtured do, it grew.
When we got married, I thrust “THE THING,” that I had so carefully coddled all those years, into a prominent place in our lives. If our marriage had been a house, “THE THING” would have sat on the mantle above the fireplace in the family room.
I had brought “THE THING” into my marriage, which was bad enough. But the problems got bigger the longer we were married. I kept accumulating more “THINGS!” My husband and I were not the imperfect Christians that we are today when we got married. We didn’t stand a snowball’s chance…(You get the picture.)
I used “THE THING” against my husband like an ancient torture apparatus. Frankly, holding on to the past can drain you like a medieval bloodletting device, slow and agonizing. I had to make a mindful decision to let it go.
And, it wasn’t easy.
Steps to Letting Go
1. Give yourself permission to forgive
First, I had to give myself permission to forgive. That was not an easy process. I partly blamed myself for the incident. So, the madder I was at myself, the madder I was at him. Begin with forgiving yourself.
Next, I had to begin to see “THE THING” though more mature eyes and view it as an adult instead of a teenager. I needed to see us as who we had become not who we were. Once I’d re-framed “THE THING” and began looking at it through more mature eyes, I could clearly see all the damage it had caused. I knew I had to get rid of it. But, it wasn’t going to let me go that easily. It hung on.
3. Separate yourself from the past
I had to make a decision to separate myself (and my husband) from our past. That was the hardest part of the process. In truth, when I decided to move forward with our relationship and start my “happily ever after” with my husband, I relinquished any propriety rights to clench, cradle, or carry “THE THING.”
Lastly, after you’ve given yourself permission to forgive, forgive! Go to the source of all forgiveness: Jesus Christ. In Christ, we can do all things. That is not just Bible-speak. It can happen. For me, He was crucial to my ability to let “THE THING” go. Still wasn’t easy. Some people come to Christ and drag “their THING” right along with them. We turn lives over to Christ, but we cling to “THE THING” as if our lives depended upon it. Christ can raise the dead, heal the sick, feed the hungry, but He is incapable of handling our “THING?” Hmmm…
Once I let go of “THE THING,” I could get about the business of building my relationship and caring for others. Let me warn you: Letting go is not a one-time deal. I can get a new ”THING” everyday, if I choose to do so. But Christ helps me let them go everyday.
Let it go should become part of marriage vows. To have and to hold; to forgive and to let go. So the next time you hear the song “Let It Go,” open your heart and “slam the door.”