Just let go
There’s a great scene in Fight Club where Tyler Durden tries to convince the narrator to “just let go” and give up the control he thinks he has over his life. It is a powerful scene that encapsulates many of the themes of the film (and Chuck Palahniuk’s brilliant novel), but what always stood out the most for me is this: People spend much of their lives trying to control the things that happen in their life, when in reality we have little control. By shattering that illusion of control, Tyler leads the narrator on a path toward self-actualization.
Control is a difficult thing to relinquish. We all want to feel like we’re in control. We can take care of ourselves. We have our own plans. Put your best foot forward and you’ll get the job, the girl will like you. Work hard and you’ll be successful, respected. Eat right and exercise and you’ll be in good health. When that illusion of control is shattered like the windshield of Tyler’s car, it’s a traumatic experience, not necessarily as violent but always painful.
There have been times where I have felt close to God, as though I am walking lock-step in the path He has laid out for me. There are times when I feel as though I am all alone and my unheard prayers and cries are echoing off the bare walls of my bedroom. This is the latter. It’s easy in such times to ask “where is God” or “doesn’t He care?” Recently, however, it occurred to me that maybe times like these happen because he cares. Maybe it’s his way of saying “Jeremy, just let go.”
The more we rely on ourselves, the more we try to maintain control, the less we rely on God. Maybe sometimes God takes something from you to show you that it wasn’t what you need, that your heart and your mind are focused on the wrong thing. I have a hard time letting go. I have my own hopes, dreams, and desires. I have my own plan for my life. I have my own ideas of what it means to be successful and secure. And no matter how much time I spend trying to convince God that my plans are the best — and believe me, I have spent a lot of time doing exactly that — I know that God’s plan is likely very different.
Jeremy, I’m taking your job so you will learn that true security comes only from me (and because that job was awful. How many times do I have to teach you not to apply for a job you find on Craigslist?). I’m emptying your bank account and pantry so you will recognize that the Lord will provide. You can’t be with the one you love but won’t let go of the hope that she’ll change her mind about you, so I’m afraid I must crush that hope by reminding you how unimportant you are to her. You’ll lose friends to appreciate those who remain. You’ll endure pain to appreciate times of health. It’s time to move on. It’s time to trust Me. It’s time to let go.
It’s time to stop worrying about my future, to stop trying to control everything to get what I want. Because what I want is not as important as what God wants, including what He wants for me. Sometimes it’s easy to tell what God wants for me (“Hey God, some guy just offered me some cocaine. Good idea or bad?”). Other times I’m in the dark. But the good news is that God’s not sitting around saying “Man, if only there was some way to get Jeremy’s attention. If only I was able to help influence this decision!”
If I let Him, God will help me walk through these tough times. He may help by slamming a door in my face to make me open a different one. He may let me make mistakes so I will learn from them. He may talk to me directly through a burning bush or a donkey (okay, probably not, but it’s happened before!) It’s time to relinquish control, or more accurately, to admit that I never had control in the first place. It’s time to trust God — not just say I trust Him but to really, truly put my trust in Him. It’s time to just let go.