Confessions #3: Letting Go

Written January 5, 2011.

I’m not sure I’ve ever really made a lasting difference in the life of someone who needed me. If I were to die today, would anyone say at my funeral, “She changed my life”? I’m afraid they wouldn’t, and I’m afraid I know why.

Working in retail, you learn the art of carrying on a friendly yet controlled conversation, letting the customer be in charge. You talk as long as they want to talk, but you don’t get so deep that you can’t easily wrap it up when they’re ready to go. And you can always tell when they’re ready – it’s a voice inflection, a casual wave of the hand, a step back from the counter – but you can always tell. You know it’s time to finish the conversation with a smile, hand the customer their bag, and let them go on their way. I’ve become quite good at it in a professional environment, but my personal life is a different story.

I meet someone who is struggling with something in their life and want to make a difference for them somehow. Yet as time goes on, I want and expect to see a change in their life, and I feel as though I bear some responsibility if that doesn’t happen. Then I become frustrated; I want their problems to become the past and the “difference” to be the future so we can have a normal, give-and-take relationship. I want them to be there for me as well; I become self-centered and expect the relationship to benefit me. Rather than making a difference for them, I want them to make a difference for me. Time passes and they no longer need me, but by then, I need them. And then the jarring realization hits me: When did this become about me instead of them?

In reality, my strength comes from Christ alone; depending on others makes me ineffective. I’m trying to strike a balance: opening up to others with sincerity but not relying on them, getting close enough for their benefit but not close enough for mine. I’m trying to learn how to be there for people when they need me but rely on God instead. I’m trying to learn how to wrap things up with a smile, make what difference I can, and let them go.

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Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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