It’s Time to Let Go
From Ecclesiastes 3
Never give up.
This is what people say. Honestly, this is what I say without a second’s worth of hesitation. In various ways and by various phrases, I say, Don’t quit. Keep going. Never surrender. Even my favorite band says it: “Don't stop believin’.“
But reading Ecclesiastes 3 the other day, a phrase stuck out. “For everything there is a season … a time to seek, and a time to lose” (vv. 1, 6). The explanation in my study Bible for the phrase “time to lose” says this: “To give up looking for a lost item.”
What? Why would you do that? is my immediate reaction. The story of the prodigal son and ever-patient father comes to mind. Did the father give up? Did the woman seeking her coin give up? They searched until they found. So at what point is it right, is it “in season,” is it “beautiful” (see v. 11) to simply give up? To me, that seems so tragic, so pessimistic, so hopeless.
You can see why this is so challenging a concept for me.
But I’m thinking back over this last year, which, for me, has been incredibly frustrating and, at many points, painful. A year ago, my schedule looked very different. My goals, too. I had wanted to lose ten pounds. I had wanted to be fluent in French. I had wanted to homeschool my daughter. I had wanted to train and audition for America Ninja Warrior (yes, really—I prayed many prayers over that).
I wanted all these things and shaped my life to get them—I counted calories and worked out religiously, I studied French in the mornings, every morning, for at least thirty minutes, I met with other homeschooling mamas and researched curriculums, I attended Ninja training sessions and set workout goals with an eye toward increasing upper body strength and agility. I had a regimented schedule—annoyingly regimented—that left me zero time to do or be or think about anything (or anyone) else. Nor did I have time for other goals that, given my abilities, make way more sense.
Slowly, painfully, and spread over the last twelve months, I’ve given up each of these goals. Some are still in the back of my mind—I’d love to spend a summer in France one day, immersed in the language and, let’s be honest, eating waaaay too many crepes. And one of these days, I will do six unassisted pull-ups. I hope.
But, you know, I think I’ll be okay if I don’t. I’m learning—slowly, painfully—that letting go of one thing makes room for something else. And sometimes that something else is something more important, something I should have been spending my time on from the start.
Like being a mom and chasing bubbles. Like writing. Like loving and respecting my body. Like last-minute lunches with friends. Like life.
There is a time to never give up. I believe that with all my heart. But remember and respect the fact that seasons change, and sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself, your sanity, your family, work, and relationships is let go.
Next week‘s reading: Ecclesiastes 5:8-17–9:1-10.