By: Sarah McGuire
“Just let it go”
I said this to my daughter recently after she spilled her heart out to me in the kitchen one morning. She was reeling from a serious gut-punch life had thrown her way. She was pissed and sad.
I listened to her for awhile, admittedly in my auto-pilot mode. I could easily blame this on a hurried morning, or toast burning, or….but I’d be mostly lying. The truth is it’s because emotions are unpredictable…and so freaking messy. And because I don’t know what to do when they’re flying unsanctimoniously all over my happy place. They feel threatening, so they are bad.
But, there they were. Her raw feelings. They swirled around me as I tried to be present, but without thinking, my need to manage all of the things took over, and I coughed up my go-to empty platitude. “It’ll be fine, really; just let it go.”
“Yeah. Ok, Mom.” Her eyes said it all.
And just as quickly as the words left my mouth, I felt it. A nagging, familiar spur sunk down onto my heart.
I quickly decided I’d just add this to the list of hard and awkward conversations with my kids. And like always, it came and went; no big deal.
She gave me grace for my misguided advice and she survived her crises. All was well again. Except…
The sting was still….stinging.
I should confess that a few years ago I would’ve either totally ignored this or I would’ve considered it a weakness and something to overcome (read: bury). But now I know better. Now, when my heart starts doing that thing…that annoying, unrelenting thing…I know it’s time to pay attention. Because it usually means there’s a teacher at the door and class is about to be in session.
That’s why I wasn’t shocked when a few days later, this popped up:
Ok, teacher-heart. You have my attention.
So, seriously. What is the big deal, anyway?
It took a minute to sink in, but here’s what:
Telling a hurting person to just “let it go” does not champion their highest good. Ever.
Because it leaves no room for their humanity. It puts a ridiculously simplistic veil over something that is so deeply personal and impossibly complex and then asks it to leave quietly through the back door.
It incorrectly assumes that people are not capable of knowing when and if they are able to move on.
And worst of all: it means we deny each other a vital part of our full human experience: Discomfort.
It was then obvious that I’d somehow missed the memo that said it was “ok” for everyone to be uncomfortable and it was just as sacred to feel sadness as it was to feel joy.
And here’s the best part: nobody will die from too much of either.
If we are really going to be truth-tellers and light-bearers, then we need to make peace with the discomfort of letting things be what they are. Because being *real* humans means we must bear witness to it all. Life is both beautiful and hard. And the witnessing of it will compel us over and over and over again to lay down our preferences and our timing. Or we’re not really witnessing, just managing.
Love always makes room. Lots and lots of room.
We don’t always have to let go…
Let it be.