A friend's father passed away last summer. It was after a long, drawn-out and painful battle with pancreatic cancer. He spent the last 6 months simply wasting away. Her father remarried many years ago to a lovely woman. And, for the most part the entire family got along quite amicably. That is, until he died.
What seems to be at the heart of the disagreement is that her father left everything to his new wife. Now, let me make this very clear, my friend and her two siblings could care less about money or even the bulk of the possessions. However, they want something, a small trinket of their father to remember him by. Additionally, these items might consist of birthday gifts, possessions that were directly linked to their life before she entered the picture and or even connected to his genealogy which should have no value to her. And yet, she is completely unwilling to part with anything, and certainly not these few pieces requested by my friend and her family.
I pondered this predicament. It makes me very sad for all of them. But it also brought to mind what I am unwilling to let go. What am I holding on to for some misplaced security or simply out of fear that should conjure up the same feelings of sadness about the state of my own soul?
In my early walk with Christianity, part of my hold out on believing in Jesus was that I felt I had to give up my old life. All the things that I held dear were now against the law, or so I thought. And, I wasn't ready to let them go. Life was not going to be enjoyable. I started my walk on some ridiculous tight rope of piety. But, as I grew in my faith, I began to understand how unimportant these things were to God. And, how much more important relationships are. When I recognized the traps of performance I jumped off the tight rope, landed in the net and started walking on solid ground. It was painless and superbly easy. As Paul says in Philippians, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things."
My advice to my friend was to just give it more time. She should make a kind request to her father's wife to please not dispose of his things without giving the children a chance to pilfer through. She may not know of a special memory tied to an item. And, for my friend, as time passes, the significance of the clock, the photo, the books, will diminish. I am certain that as the grief is dealt with, it will be easier for his wife to give it away, too.
I encourage each of us to look deeper into ourselves to what we are clutching so desperately to that is of this world. Possibly we are holding onto something that we aren't fully aware of its existence. It is so ingrained and embedded from years of this practice or behavior, we don't know it at all.
Like an onion, the outer layers of ourselves are dry and brittle, easy to peel and discard. In fact, they almost come off themselves. The early years of believing are like that, I think. Easy transformation, little knowledge. But as you get closer and closer to the heart of the onion, the layers are tighter, tougher, more compacted and unified to the core.
Somewhere over the last year, I reached a point where I thought, well, I have dealt with a lot of those transgressions and the sins that held me hostage. Those chains don't hold me anymore. I am in pretty good shape. And then, God used people and circumstances to force the examination of layers around my heart once again. Those layers that separate me from the fullness of His love and grace.
I have walked a few years as a believer, some 12-13 years. As I journey this road, I have discovered that to relinquish more and more of myself is increasingly difficult. Rather than deal head-on with what God brought into the light, I chose to walk away. I found myself trying to find those old peels, searching through the stinking filth of the wastebasket because it was just a bit more comfortable than facing the truest part of myself.
But there is no walking, skipping, or running away. Those old peels will never feel good again. I ask...God forgive me. I am ready and willing, in prayer and meditation, to give it all away for You.