December 11 2013, my youngest daughter Elsie turned 7. On her birthday, she wanted to go see this new Disney movie. Maybe you’ve heard of it… Frozen? 😊 She was pretty much obsessed with the movie, especially since her favorite character was named Elsa (almost the same as Elsie) and because Elsa always wore blue (Elsie’s favorite color).
As you probably can tell if you know me at all that I love a good Disney movie soundtrack. So of course, I bought this one. We played it on iTunes over and over again in my car. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “Love Is an Open Door” became fast favorites, but nothing could top the epic song “Let It Go”. And although Elsie quickly lost her love for all things Frozen by the end of 1st Grade (only 6 short months), we all still love to sing “Let It Go” whenever we hear it, much to my husband’s chagrin.
What was it about “Let It Go” that made us (and the whole rest of the world) love it so much? Was it the dynamic way the song started low and built up to the frosty bridge? Was it that you could feel the conflict and fear in her voice as Idina Menzel belted out this Academy and Grammy winning song? Or was it just the need to just let go that everyone so easily identifies with? The need to let go of others opinions, the need to let go of control, the need to let go of worry? Or maybe, on a spiritual level, the need to let go of sin?
When we let go of all those things mentioned above, it is indeed freeing. Those are all ‘bad’ things. Everyone can tell that letting those things go is a positive move. One that makes your life better. Not that it’s easy to let any of those go, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. You can see that good will be a direct result of letting go of those bad things. Letting go of bad = good for you. But what about when you are asked, or even forced, to let go of a ‘good’ thing?
Letting go of good = bad for me. Well, at least it makes me feel bad. And that’s right where I am at this season of my life.
I’ve been sick with some sort of bronchial/sinus junk since mid-October. I’ve been to 2 doctors, 2 nurse practitioners, a pulmonologist, and an ENT. I’ve had 3 rounds of antibiotics, 2 steroid packs, 1 steroid shot, 1 chest xray, 1 breathing test, 1 CT scan, and 1 skinny camera down my nose to check my vocal cords. Good news is, nothing is really wrong. I just keep coughing… a lot… every day. And I keep snotting… a lot… every day. Sorry to be so very gross, but sometimes the truth is gross!
So at my last appointment, which was with the ENT, he said my sinuses are clear. I have no polyps or nodules, but my vocal cords are swollen. He put me on vocal rest for 3 weeks. No talking (at least as little as possible), and no singing. That may not sound like a big thing to you, but it is EVERYTHING to me. If you didn’t know, I’M A TALKER! And even more than that, IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME! This is the time of year for singing!! And I can’t! I haven’t been able to sing with our praise band since October! And I was supposed to sing (or try and sing) a song for our Christmas Eve services, and now I can’t. I have sung at the past 6 or 7 Christmas Eve services. It’s my absolute favorite time of year and service to sing at! And I can’t. My voice has been taken away. And I have no control. I just have to let it go.
What good is coming from me letting go? Honestly, I’ve been asking myself this question for days. Trying to figure out what God is trying to teach me through this. I was asking Scott about it last night. He did have some good insight. He said that sometimes when you let go, it allows someone else the opportunity to step up and lead or minister or shine. (Whatever word you would like to use…) For example, this Sunday for our Christmas Eve services, my dear friend Amanda Loggins will sing “my” song (see, I’m still struggling with this). Now Amanda is a very accomplished singer. She has a beautiful voice and sings often. But, I only remember her singing once at a Christmas Eve service since we’ve been at our church. So this Sunday is her time… to share her beautiful ‘Disney princess’ voice with our church as we prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming. My letting go is her opportunity to minister and bless.
Now of course, all that sounds fine and dandy and sweet, especially for Amanda, but it still didn’t do much for my need to know what good (for me) could come out of my loss of voice. Ariel lost her voice, but in return, won the heart of handsome Prince Eric! For the love, what was I going to get in return?! (Yes, I know how incredibly selfish that sounds!)
As I went to bed last night, these thoughts were still mulling around in my head. And I felt like God asked me, “When did you have to let go of ‘good’ things in the past? And how did that turn out for you?” Two things quickly came to mind:
1 – what I thought a perfect husband for me would be and
2 – my idea of church and home life.
My senior year in high school and on into college, I had developed what I thought the perfect spouse for me would be. An academic man, who loved sports, loved to read, and was a spiritual giant, who had been a Christian for a very long time, like I was. But guess what? God’s thoughts were not the same as my thoughts!:) I met Scott Smyth, and we started dating. As it became more serious, I realized this was not the kind of guy I had planned on marrying. He was a hunter/gatherer/outdoorsman, who would rather be watching a Monty Python movie instead of reading a book, spending his time in a duckblind rather than a library, and was a baby Christian. I found myself being very guarded, not wanting to get hurt, as well as concerned that this was not the guy for me since he wasn’t what I had in mind for the ‘perfect spouse’.
I remember one night in our kitchen in Center Point, my mom (who rarely gave me advice because I feel like she was so insecure in herself that she didn’t feel confident enough to give any) told me something that changed my life. She said, “Sarah, you don’t need to let Scott go. He’s an incredible guy. Don’t be dumb and let him get away.” She had quite a way with words!:) What she was truly saying is this: make sure to let go of the right thing… the thing that needs to be let go of. I needed to let go of my preconceptions and plans, and accept His perfection and plans. And boy was Mom right. He has taught me to look up to the sky and look for birds, not think so much and have fun, and ended up being a UMC pastor with not only his undergrad degree, but also a Masters of Divinity! Scott is the best thing that has ever happened to me, second only to my giving my heart to Jesus so long ago.
The second time I had to let go of a ‘good’ thing was when Scott told me he was called to ministry in the Methodist church. When he originally told me he felt called to be a pastor (in our non-denominational church), I had absolutely no doubts or fears. I knew as a young girl that I would be a pastor’s wife, so I had complete peace. But a few years later when he dropped the Methodist church bomb on me, I did not have complete peace. I said no, that God was not saying that, and that he must have misunderstood. My background was Assembly of God and non-denominational, very different than the traditional Methodist churches that I had visited as a child with my Nanny. And I knew Methodist ministers were appointed to different churches and moved often, and that was not my plan either. I wanted to be in a church that worshipped the way I was comfortable and in a home that was steady, so my future children could be in the same school and have the same friends their entire childhood, like I did.
But as the good little submissive wife that I am, I begrudgingly let go of my plans. And in return, God has given me a new revelation of His grace, new friends all over north Alabama and northwest Tennessee, and an appreciation for the Lord’s Supper that I never had in all my years at my childhood church.
Sometimes, it’s just time to let go. The good and the bad. Like scripture tells us:
“A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.” Ecclesiastes 3:6
I went to bed last night, knowing how I would wrap up this blog post. Remembering how in the past, when I let go of even the good things, that God was always faithful to give me even better things to replace them with. I woke up this morning and took a shower – and that’s where God spoke one more thing to me. (Our shower is a magical place. God always speaks to me and Scott there!)
When you think of holding on to something, the image that comes to mind is usually a clinched fist. And when something is very important to you, that clinched fist usually has white knuckles. But when you let go, the fist is released, and your hands are opened, usually palms up. In that position, you are free – free to worship and free to receive the next thing God has for you. And if you are finding yourself with clinched fists, holding on to bad things (like sin) or good things (like your voice), it might be time to let it go. Nothing on this earth should ever make your knuckles white except for Jesus Himself. Hold on to Him with everything you have… and know He’s holding on to you.