Faith Begins by Letting Go

A few weeks ago, I preached a sermon on the trust psalms, particularly Psalm 27, entitled, “Trust, Perseverance, and Doggedness.”  When I went hunting for a closing hymn for the service, I stumbled upon a relatively new one entitled, “Faith Begins by Letting Go.”

While I ended up selecting it for the service, I felt a bit puzzled by the title, the lyrics, and the sentiment.  The first stanza is as follows:

Faith begins by letting go 
Giving up what had seemed sure 
Taking risks and pressing on 
Though the way feels less secure 
Pilgrimage both right and odd 
Trusting all our life to God

I wasn’t sure I believed that faith begins by letting go of our foundation, taking risks, and that one’s pilgrimage should feel “both right and odd.”  Still, something about the hymn seemed to resonate with the content of my sermon, especially the ode to one of the great contemporary spiritual writers, Anne Lamott, on perfectionism and they way in which our writing cramps up around our wounds as in life.

These past few weeks I’ve encountered my own cramps and struggles to write, and am starting to believe in this whole wisdom of letting go.

You see I was having a lot of trouble getting my thoughts to find substance and clarity on the page, writing and rewriting pages and pages of an article on my research with foster mothers in China.  I kept thinking that despite my frustrations, I needed to have faith that these meanderings, however seemingly futile, had some semblance of progress and that I would eventually find my way if I kept at it.

However, this morning during my prayer time I realized that in the writing process, I’d started to lose the joy and excitement that is so genuine to my work with families in China. And I decided to give myself the freedom to reflect freely on what I learned and what I love about the families I worked with.  In a away, I decided to free myself from the burden of writing something smart and relevant and pertinent to the academy and instead tap back into what these families, this culture, and these people taught me about God and life.

And suddenly I was at no lack for thoughts, ideas, and even words on the page.  

I recalled, rather crudely, what these foster mothers had taught me about my own neediness for God and for others, and that true kinship, true family, is not about blood, choice, or even love, but our deep need for one another.

I love that as I yielded to venture away from what I think I know or how I think I should say it, God let me back to my own need for God and others, and this great sense of unity that in my deepest being I have for my vocation as both a scholar and a minister.

I’m so thankful for the wisdom of letting go today–not only because it’s getting me closer to getting this article down on the page, but because it’s taking me to a revelation that I couldn’t have found on my own, by my own strength, might, or wisdom.  It’s making clear my need to rely on God and others for insight, faith, encouragement, grace, and communion.

And despite how scary that is, it’s an an amazing place to be.

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5 thoughts on “Faith Begins by Letting Go

  1. Erin, I’m so slow getting to things on my computer, but just hit your saved address to read your May post on Letting Go, then your April post of the lifespan of this blog. You speak God’s truth so beautifully! On the few times I’ve read your posts, they so deeply touch my heart & Spirit, and I know I need to mark some time to just sit & soak in the insights you’ve printed over the past months…on “letting go”, it seems God calls us to open our hands & our hearts, and do our best to be faithfully obedient as we seek Him & His Will in our lives, TRUSTING/KNOWING, that God IS WITH US in all of it! Thank you for being YOU…such an amazing woman of Faith, sharing God’s Light & Love & Joy with family, friends, community & the world!! Know You & Yours remain in my heart and prayers…
    In Faith,
    S

  2. Your heart and your writing are so beautiful. You are sharing the most important of all thoughts. Christ said Love the Lord and love your neighbor as you love yourself. And that is what you do. You share your life as a struggle to obey the completion of all the law and the prophets. In doing so, I learn vicariously to consider the same. This blog is more important than you could ever know. Happy Birthday.

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