I never let go on a roller coaster. Never. Instead, I do the sensible thing and hold on to the safety bar with an almighty grip and sink my feet down hard into the steel floor of the ride.
This firm and steady stance will certainly shield me from any unwanted outcomes if something horrible happened. If I just hold on tight enough, I cannot get hurt. If I dig my feet in deep enough, everything will work out the way I want it to. Just hold on tighter.
Life is funny, though, because often things don’t end up happening quite like we plan. Sure, if we dig in hard enough and beat the obstacle with a steady string of punches, bits and pieces will eventually give in and fall. We all have the ability to force things into happening but when we do, we usually end up with only a sketch outline or skeleton drawing of the beautiful painting we were meant to have in the first place; the picture we probably would have had if we hadn’t dug in so hard.
I mentor a group of fourth graders in my daughter’s class and we worked on a philanthropy project for Thanksgiving. This year we made blessing bags filled with dry goods, small snacks, candies, toiletries, and hair accessories. These bags were made for our local homeless shelter for women and children. Before organizing all of their donated items and sorting them for bagging, the girls decorated each of the bags while some of them wrote inspirational and uplifting messages. One, in particular, stood out to me. It read, in part, “Just remember there is a plan for you, have faith!”
I understand the human need to feel in control. Feeling a sense of control over our surroundings feels good and I am acutely aware of the times when I feel the need to have it. It’s usually when my surroundings are completely out of my control, like in 2016 when I was very abruptly diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I understand far too well the need to feel in control. There is nothing more unsettling than to not have control over the experiences in your life.
Whenever I feel anxious, I feel the urge to micromanage my family. Whenever I feel a sense of uncertainty, I feel the need to force things. When I’m forced to wait and exercise patience, I can become easily frustrated and end up lashing out at a completely innocent store clerk. Whenever I am faced with a deep desire to control my surroundings, although painstakingly difficult, I remind myself that what I really need to do, is let go. Instead of grabbing on to the safety bar with both hands, I need to let go.
There is a plan for me, a plan for all of us but we have to let go and trust in ourselves. Sure, it’s scary and feels uncertain, but it’s really the only way to truly live. It’s quite a quandary to be in. On one hand, you are faced with a deep human need to hold on to the safety bar with unflappable might and dig your heels down deep into the floor; do whatever it takes to control the universe in your favor. On the other, you need to let that stuff go.
It all makes me wonder how in the world can we live in such a preciously unstable existence. It’s a true paradox because on one hand, letting go is an almost unfathomable concept and truly takes my breath away, and yet, on the other, there is no alternative.
I can only surmise one theory and that is faith. We must trust in something greater and bigger than us.
There is more, way more than we can ever imagine. Instead of forcing life into the flimsy sketch of things the way I think they should go, I would rather let go and get the full, beautiful, complete picture that I deserve. But it’s certainly not easy. I have to take each step guided by the deepest faith that I am on the right path. I have to trust in myself that if and when I falter, I will find a way to right myself. I have to trust that everything happens for a reason and that within my life, there is purpose.
So I’m letting go. I’m not holding on, nor am I digging in. I’m not railing against the forces of change that affect my plans. I’m enjoying the ride no matter what direction it takes me or how long it lasts. I have faith in the plan that is set forth for me and I’m doing my best to enjoy the ride. As I throw my hands up in the air while thundering down from the highest drop, I have faith. I have found, that while letting go can make things a lot scarier, it can also make things way more fun.
This story originally appeared on Melanie Forstall – Stories of Life, Love, and Mothering