2 Jan 2018

Why letting go is so hard, and what your soul needs in 2018

It's hard to let go. Even with events that we anticipate and desire, we can struggle too with the changes as they happen:

Child starting school
Daughter seeing someone
A new job assignment, even location
An emptying nest
Getting married

No matter what we envision it to be and how detailed we are in our preparations, there are often still surprises. Some of these good things come with a sense of loss. Sometimes, they turn out quite differently from what we expected (cue 'happily ever after' music).

We are creatures that plan, work and build, and we are told to succeed. This makes it really hard to let go.

It's even harder to let go and move on when new experiences and scenarios occur, sometimes suddenly and it feels random:

Finding out that someone has betrayed you
Being attacked online
Sudden loss of a loved one

We are thrust into a situation we neither desire, plan or welcome. It is hard to let go of the security, safety and familiarity when we suddenly have to grapple with this new development. We will long for things to be as before, fight the changes, go through denials, and even find ourselves in a valley with depressive moods lingering nearby to overtake us. We want answers, justice, a 'darn good reason' for why this is happening to me at this time.

I am particularly concerned for the young lady who went to the US on a family trip and will now have to travel home all alone as the rest all perished in a tragic accident on the highway. Her entire world has fallen apart. So much loss. (Do pause and lift a prayer for her).

It's now the second day of a new year.

If you are feeling afraid, unprepared, or nervous, your soul is crying out for attention. You are unable to let 2017 go.

The soul is a shy and vulnerable part of us that needs security and protection in order to flourish and so energize us. 

On the last day of 2017, I set down with my journal and three questions emerged:

What do I care most about?
How am I doing?
Where am I headed?

My soul seems nervous and in need of some answers. 2017 had been a frenzied year that needed a frame and a sense of closure if I were to be able to let it go and welcome the new year.

I know full well that I cannot fool my soul or myself with a pick-me-up line, "it's all fine". I needed to listen to my soul and take care of it. An unsettled and restless soul translates into a tense body, a defensive mindset and a lack of reciprocity with God. It's hard to receive and to bless when the soul is clenched.

Sometimes, we get tired that the soul seems to be asking us the same stuff. This reminds me of how God asked Adam and later his son Cain, "what's up?". Surely God knows. But the question is not to seek information, it is to offer transformation.

Transformation happens when we brave it and dive down deeper and not stay at the surface. It involves making the right connections, observing our emotional state, and rehearsing the truth we embrace.

The right connections
The easiest and quickest connection is superficial. The first man looked at his situation and blamed the only other person around. That was not the right connection. He needed to look within and admit that he lacked the conviction, faith and muscle to stand on God's word and choose obedience.

He needed repentance, not a rebuttal. But alas he chose the latter.

We are more prone to sin, blame and dodging than we admit. If we will not see this clearly for what it is, we can at best improve our behaviour, and that may fall apart when times get really hard.

What do you need to own up to?

Our emotional state
Feeling a lot and feeling just a little are both emotional states that are indicators of what is going on deeper within. Sometimes, feeling a little can really be a way to self-protect from the fear of disappointment and failure. It takes courage to admit that we want some thing really badly.

If Adam had gone to God and said that he really wants to try that fruit, and then, yields that desire to God, he story will be totally different. After all, desires are a part of the way God made us. Unlike Buddhism that teaches that desires are illusory, Christianity charges us to lay hold of our desires, cleanse them of the bits that are merely self-serving and turn them into ways that love and serve others.

What are the top 1-2 desires that are always floating around in your heart?

Rehearse the truth
The soul can distinguish between the truth and a pep talk. As I sat and reviewed my journal, my soul was informed of the events I had journeyed through and the emotions and convictions I had formed along the way. My mind had forgotten so much of it (thank God for the journal!), but the soul was smiling along as I read.

I anchored on some Scripture I had recorded in my journal and read them slowly again. A deep satisfaction and peace came over me. The questions I began with did not feel as urgent anymore. I had answers to them, although not in the form of a plan or a strategy.

That's when I realized afresh what my soul was doing. The questions it posed set me in the right direction and primed me to reflect in a particular way.

In the end, I was not asked to prove or establish that my achievements or my foresight. Rather, I needed to remember that my journey, though filled with surprises and at times pain, is a meaningful one and the purpose of God for me is ripening in my long obedience. Above all, the soul wants me to be secure and brave in knowing that I do not walk by myself, ever.

On the final few days of 2017, I cleaned out my desk and set up a new calendar. That's the desk. Real life however is much more a continuation. But we can continue in our fear, restlessness, resentment or weariness, or we can pay attention to our soul and continue stronger and clearer.

Take time to listen to your soul, make the right connections, find your emotions more rested and anchor your mind on truths you know.

Related reads:
From 'other' to 'another', spotting God's wide mercies
Don't lose your 'ask-ability' and don't lose sight of God
The power of a soul's shape
A small soul shift can be seismic


  1. Thank you for publishing this fantastic post. I'm a long time
    reader but I've never actually left a comment. I've bookmarked your
    website and shared this on my Twitter. Many thanks again for a really good article!

    1. Thank you! It's safe to leave your name too :)
      May you be brave in 2018!


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