Letting Go

She said getting to God is like grasping a strand. Any strand will do – prayer, fasting, even smiling at the strangers you pass on the street. You just have to pick one and hold on.

My church-going, Bible-reading, pastor’s daughter mind smiles at her foolishness. I know there is only one strand. After all, Jesus said He was THE way, THE truth, THE life.

A year ago, this would have been the end of my story. Smug self-righteousness.

But today, I realize that my heart understands her metaphor. I realize now that I too am a grasper, leaning toward a system of morality that will pull me into God’s favor. Being married has taught me this, that I have strands I didn’t even know I was holding. The constant rub of another against the confines of my world has revealed rules I’ve followed because deep down, I’ve believed that doing so would somehow keep me safe.

You can drink wine with dinner

But only one glass

Sometimes two

But only once a week

Never three

Except on weekends

Or when you’ve had a REALLY bad day

You shouldn’t work too much

Not more than 40 hours a week

Unless you have to

But even then, you should do so begrudgingly

Oh, but working doesn’t include helping people

Or doing activities at church

It’s only work you get paid for

That’s the only dangerous kind

They’re complicated these rules, full of caveats that condemn others and let me off the hook. But they’re written so that I can hold on, so that I don’t fall away.

The problem is though that I do fall. I break these rules and other, more obvious ones. I fail to be kind to my husband, to be gracious to my students, to work joyfully, to stop complaining. Lately, it feels like falling and failing is all I do.

I hate failing. I so desperately want to hold on. But I’m realizing that I need Jesus as much as the lady with her single strand, that in fact, I probably need Him more because I have so very many strands and because I keep dropping them all, every last one.