When Letting Go Hurts

by | Oct 12, 2012 | Uncategorized

The call came in the middle of the detergent aisle in Wal-Mart. I heard him say the unthinkable and bent over my cart of pumpkins and Ziploc bags, balanced my elbows on the handle and rested my forehead in my hands. I wanted to cry but I was in Wal-Mart.

My hard drive crashed and all I can think about are the photos I took on our trip to England a few months ago. Over a thousand photos – including the castle of my ancestry – could be gone. I neglected to back up my files over the past few months, slipped my mind in the busy.

I push the cart down the aisle of bath towels looking for a shower liner for my son’s bathroom. Can’t read the price tags for the blurry mess in my eyes.

“Lord, is this a lesson in letting go for me,” I ask Him.

My sleeve wears the heartbreak and I inhale until it hurts, stand with shoulders a bit taller through the check out. And I can’t stop thinking about the possibility of what I could lose as I hoist bags of bread and cartons of milk back into the cart.

Tears sneak under my sunglasses on the walk to the car, a steady drip in the dam before it bursts open in heaves over the steering wheel.  

And I remember reading these words this morning, before I took a walk under mossy beards hanging from Live Oaks, when I fell in love with the light through my lens:

Enjoy my good gifts, but don’t cling to them. Turn your attention to the Giver of all good things, and rest in the knowledge that you are complete in Me. The only thing you absolutely need is the one thing you can never lose: My Presence with you. ~Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. ~James 1:17

I’m feeling a bit small seeing the reflection of myself blocking the light with what I cling to. He knew that I would feel this way today. That’s why I know I can let go.

I hope you’ll link any post you’ve written on the theme of Letting Go in the comments today. Here are a few posts on the topic I enjoyed this week:

Sarah lets go of what she thought her life would look like to embrace this season of glory. “Who would ever want to be imprisoned in the short, stubby dreams of their younger, less-knowing self?”

Michelle trades time for a square inch of silence. “When’s the last time you heard not Twitter chirps and cell phone beeps and garbage trucks, the swish of the dishwasher, rumble of the dryer, scream of the jet overhead…but the taptaptap of the downy woodpecker, the hush of wind in your ears, the gurgle of water over river rocks, the click of a beetle’s wings?”

Duane shares a haunting tale of his soul flying free in Haiti, “So I come to you today, friends, broken and so admirable of God’s grace and I wonder where I’ve been all my life, why I’ve locked myself out to the darkness of the world because I’ve also locked myself out of an authentic redemptive story and maybe I’m not the only one.”

This is #12 in the series 31 Days of Letting Go. You can read the collective here. If you are a writer, I invite you to link up any post you’ve written on the theme of letting go in the comments here on Friday. Subscribe to receive the series in your inbox or feed by adding your address in the side bar under Follow Redemptions Beauty.


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  1. Lori

    Oh Shelly, this is a hard lesson. All those memories…..but you hold them in your heart forever, God keeps everything of value right where He is. I still grieve a very special scarf I lost years ago…still clean my closet out hopping I will find it, and I know that hard drive thing too.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Things are starting to look up Lori, I’m praying we won’t lose everything. And I recently lost a necklace my husband gave me on my anniversary. I’m still sick about it. I know how you feel.

  2. ro elliott

    Oh I have had this too…makes me think right now I need to do a back up. Learning the one thing we can never lose is His presence…we just have to invite Him into those moments…those hard disappointment…He always brings Grace…and with Grace comes peace. Letting go…a forever process. blessings and peace to you~

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I tend to put things off that feel menial. Shouldn’t have done that with this. So far, it looks as though there is hope I didn’t lose everything.

  3. Jennifer Camp

    Shelly, I am so sorry. Truly. I just lost a dear bracelet my husband gave me for my birthday. These losses feel so deep, like they are more than tangible things, which makes me want to reach down and ask Him the same question you did, so beautifully — oh, the heart of surrender. Thank you, friend.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, this is a hard lesson for me. I realized how much I hold on to those photos. I had to let go right there in the parking lot knowing there is nothing more important than Him.

  4. Laura Brown

    But the memories you still have. And the experience of being there. And words to describe it, from the camera of your mind. (I bet you didn’t take a picture in the detergent aisle, but that image will come back to you crisply, and so will the feelings, whenever you think about that moment. Look how you put us right there in the aisle with you.)

    Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “One Art” comes to mind here.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I know you are right. I’m not familiar with that poem, where can I find it?

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Jane, glad to have you along. I really enjoyed your post, especially the analogy of the acorns – lovely. I shared it on my Facebook page.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too Elizabeth, it does look hopeful today, thanks for praying. Enjoyed your letting go of worry story, thanks so much for sharing it here and for the mention about this series on your blog. I’m grateful.

  5. tara pohlkotte

    oh. that is a loss for sure. so sorry. you know, i wonder…. once we let go like this of some of the big things {or, we are FORCED to let go} if we would let go of more bigger things, until it becomes more natural and more freeing with space to move around us.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, I often think about that regarding people who have chronic or terminal illness. In those cases we must let go and I’ve found those that can do that are truly free people.

  6. Jillie

    Oh Shelly…I am so sorry for the loss of all your ‘England’ photos! That’s when I first started commenting here on your blog, as Devon, England was the birthplace of my Gram, and because of that, I have a deep interest in all things England. I, as you know, am way up here in Canada, so I’m not aware of what happened? What was the announcement in Wal-Mart?
    I understand the loss of things beloved. Shortly after my husband and I moved into our house, 35 years ago, we went through a housefire. Lost everything of the interior! We were not believers then, and the loss to us was monumental. Wedding photos, wedding cake!, books…everything! Years later, we see how, even then, grace was upon us in that God provided shelter through a man in the crowd who had an empty apartment we could stay in. HE also provided furniture, clothing, bedding (through two nearby communities who even held ‘showers’ for us). Fundraisers. Our local firemen even bought us new JEANS, for goodness sake!
    There have been other losses too along the way, but the Lord comforts…and sometimes He even gives something better! And always His presence, praise be!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh my goodness Jillie, what a story. You have certainly been through much and the way others reached out to you in your time of need is so heartwarming. Inspires me to think about doing that for others. I haven’t lost the photos yet, it takes several hours of working on the hard drive to see if anything can be salvaged. I’m hopeful today. And just for clarification, there wasn’t an announcement in Walmart, just a phone call from our tech guy telling me the bad news.

  7. Tina

    I, too, am reading Sarah Young’s book “Jesus Calling”.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It’s so good isn’t it Tina? I feel like every time I read it, God is speaking directly to what I’ve been thinking or wrestling with.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Lori, so glad you are following along and left your link for others to find you. As I said on your post, I can relate.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So glad you came back and thanks again for the follow.

  8. nacoleat6inthesticks

    Hey Shelly,

    I tried to comment last night, but my phone went dead–ha ha. It’s serendipitous to me that while trying to comment on a post about losing your hard-drive, my phone’s battery failed, and my comment was lost.

    I am so sorry this happened, and I have said a prayer for you. I really needed to read this, about realizing all good gifts come from above, not to get too attached to the gifts, not to cling to them, but to honor God for what He’s given. And in doing this, we find our real joy–it doesn’t, can’t come from those things we cling to. I can’t give any details, but this really spoke to me tonight through a very hard time in my marriage right now. Don’t we all go through rough times. I sure hope I’m not the only one–but feeling very, very alone today. God is using you Shelly–even the seemingly insignificant things that are hard to admit and to talk about. He uses you to speak life to dry bones. Love to you.


    • Redemption's Beauty

      so sorry you are having a hard time at the moment Nacole. We all go through seasons, but they don’t feel good. I do know that loneliness, I’m praying for you and if you need anything you know how to reach me through email my friend. Loving your posts btw, you are such a good writer. I shared them.

  9. Lynn Morrissey

    Oh Shelly, what a story of letting go! I just now got online and my heart aches for you. I know this particular angst, b/c our computer crashed about two years ago with many family photos, my father’s beautifull voice in some recordings (all I had–he went to heaven 5 years ago…but to lose the sound of his beautiful voice was heartbraking), much of my writing……. and then, God graciously and miraculously salvaged it all!!! My prayer for you is His lavish grace…..grace that He will return what has been lost or grace to enable you give it all back to Him. What shines through your post is your knowledge of His faithfulness to help prepare and sustain you…..that you have been writing these posts on letting go, and that you providentially read this pariticular reading of Sarah’s. He cares that much about you that He knows your needs, your losses, your pain, and knew how much you would need to know that you are never lost to Him! He changes not and He loves you so! I’m praying that with this loss will be your ram in the thicket of the restored photos. I am praying that no matter what, you will GAIN such a great sense of His love, care, and presence! Love, Lynn

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank you Lynn, your beautiful prayer was answered.

  10. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    Reading your post, plus your comment and someone else’s about losing jewelry… just want to encourage you both not to give up but keep looking to Him to reveal a way! God has been showing me so much lately how he will restore even these things… as he did with my mom’s ring (wrote about that here -https://wordglow.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/pianissimo-when-all-else-is-panic/ )and incredibly even put them right in front of us when we’d given them up for lost.

    Someone shared with me after that post, a beautiful recent story of her own – on a busy business trip she lost some earrings her husband gave her for an important anniversary. Searched and re-traced her steps all over the city. Finally, too weary to look, she fell into bed with a prayer. Next day, she found them on her bathroom counter – found by a maid. I’ve had one experience like that over and over myself – from jewelry to contact lenses to lost computer files… and God shows me again and again how He cares even for these little things… letting go into His hands to find and restore. 🙂 His wondrous care never ceases… Be encouraged!

    Here’s my letting go of worries post today… http://wordglow.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/need-an-autumn-hug/

    • Lynn Morrissey

      Pam, when you relayed this, it reminds me just yesterday of God returning my raincoat….albeit not the end of the world to have lost it, and I can’t go into details, but based on something between Him and me, this was a very special promise kept as I submitted to something He was asking…..and then about a year ago, I lost a beautiful butterfly necklace (butterflies are my personal metaphoric symbol), and it was real jewels, given to me by my husband on my butterfly birthday. It had slipped off my neck as we walked to church. I didn’t realize till that evening that it was missing. We retraced our steps, and though, like looking for the proverbial haystack needle, we found it! Certainly God doesn’t have to do these things, but that He often does is just such a sweet reminder of His care of all that concerns us.

      • Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

        Yes… he shows me in these times just how intimately he wants to be involved in our lives. It’s not like looking to him as Santa or something, but knowing his promises and how he loves us even to returning a raincoat. I love that.

  11. Laura Rath

    Sometimes I don’t even realize what I’m clinging to. I’m enjoying this series Shelly. Thanks. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too Laura, don’t even realize it. But He is faithful to bring our attention to it when He knows we are ready to see it.

  12. Megan Willome

    Oh, honey. I’ve cried in Walmart. It’s really the perfect place.

    So sorry about your photos.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It all worked out after all Megan, everything was saved. I’m so thankful.

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