I have a tough time letting some things go.
Take this morning, for instance. Patrick was on a half asleep rant about how some lights flash red while others work normally on the drive to work (at 5:40am… there is no traffic). He felt they should all do the same thing. I piped in with a flow of traffic/energy saving/safety explanation. He said it still bugged him. I continued to insist that it makes more sense the way it is. He told me to let it go. I kept talking. He got irritated. I stopped talking.
It sounds silly and petty and immature (likely because it is), but I have a tough time dropping things. Patrick argues that it is just my opinion, but sometimes, I just feel right. Because my opinion is based on facts. At least, that is what I think.
Clearly, I am bat crazy.
Clearly, I need to learn to let some things go.
When it comes to stuff like the above, I find it hard to just shut up and let it go. I know it is silly. But it matters in my mind.
Everyone has their thing. Strange petty opinions based on random facts and details happens to be one of mine.
But, I need to just let it go from time to time. Especially when it is for my own good.
For some people, the thing to let go can be more difficult. Giving up on futile treatment. Or, sometimes the reverse letting someone give up on treatment that may not be futile.
This week, our team has been faced with a patient who has had recurrent surgical issues. In fact, the last 30 years of their life has been spent coming in and out of hospital for these issues. The most recent stay is at the two month point already. The first surgery was on the first day of admission. Recovery was complicated by sepsis due to a leak in the bowel, the wound opening up and then two more surgeries to fix those two issues. The worst part is, the problem didn’t go away. In fact, they are just as sick as when they came in. And this person decided they don’t want more active treatment.
The person has decided to let go. To let go of the medical issues that have ruled their life. To just let nature take its course. To avoid more illness and surgery and possibly go home with their family for some time. The family was on board.
The staff on the floor and the team were not.
They couldn’t let go. The problem is potentially fixable. Another surgery or two and the person might get out of here for a bit. The person isn’t actively dying of the problem. Why leave things when they will die of starvation or infection?
We consulted psychiatry. They said there was nothing wrong with the person. They had decided to refuse treatment knowing the risks. They also knew the risk of the treatment. For them, no treatment was preferred.
So, we had to let go.
I was okay with that. Letting go of treatment isn’t losing hope. Sometimes it is gaining a piece of one’s independence back.
We have conversations every day with people about whether or not to pursue active CPR in the event of a cardiac arrest. Often times, when people arrest, the point comes when a decision has to be made to let go. Some people make it out. Most don’t. You need to be honest about that. How difficult it is. But making the decision to not have that kind of intervention or to stop it is tough. You want to do what is best. Sometimes stopping is best.
Letting go isn’t easy. The patient I talked about earlier has pain and nausea. We do our best to control it. The team feels helpless. Letting go doesn’t always mean forgetting completely. Sometimes, after codes, people wonder if they did the right thing. If more could have been done. Or if the outcome was right. It is good sometimes to remember where you came from. As long as it is healthy remembrance.
For some reason, we as people hold on to things. We remember long after we could have forgotten. I think this is a good thing in many respects. But, it also means we sometimes hold on to the bad things, as well as the good. We can’t give up on worries, we struggle with the sins of our past.
Letting go is a part of finding freedom. We need to get rid of the bad to let in the good. We need to open up space to fill it up again. It is a part of life. But, it is a part of life that can be feared or disliked.
The thing is, letting go in many ways should be embraced. Yes, sometimes it can be painful. Losing a loved one or making a choice that causes pain or difficulty is not something that is easy. But neither is giving up on a worry that is unnecessary or an argument that is foolish. The thing is, many of the things we should let go and want to let go are, in fact, difficult to let go.
Many people struggle with pride or worry. We are told repeatedly to let these things go. Give them to God. But, yet, even though they hurt us, we continue to grasp at them.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. -1 Peter 5:7
A group of us at my church back at home-home are doing a study of a women’s theology book. It is a really interesting book looking at practical theology. I thought it would be really heavy, but it isn’t bad and is super useful (check it out on her blog). The last time I was there, it was talking about having our lives reflect our faith and getting rid of sin in our lives. We all agreed worry is a pet sin of ours. And that living with worry as a sin both dampens our faith but also our witness. That is pretty big stuff. I like to think of worry as just something I do. But really, it is not trusting God and is often self-reliance, which in turn goes into the sin category. Definite food for thought.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. -Hebrews 11:6
But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. -Romans 14:23
Sin is a big word. A scary word. When I hear it I think of the really bad stuff. The obvious ten commandments stuff. The things that everyone shouldn’t do. I want to call worry a “struggle.” Something to sugar coat the blow. Really, I need that kind of bluntness to remind me how bad it really is. How it shouldn’t be in my life as a Christian.
The thing is that worry is something we need to let go of. God knows how harmful it can be for us. He knows and provides for our needs. And yet, we hang on to it. Letting go seems so hard when it is such an all-consuming issue. But we have to do it. It is good for us. And for those around us.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34
Letting go is hard. The thing is, in a lot of cases, letting go can make life, in the long run easier. Maybe not perceivably at that moment or in the days to come. Giving up a sin does not always make life easy. Sometimes, it makes it seem hard. There are rewards, they aren’t always perceivable, but they are there. And letting a sin go is a struggle, even a daily one. That alone makes it a challenge.
As a rule, if it is something you know is wrong or bad or in any way detrimental, in the long run, letting go is the way to go. Even if it seems tough in the short term (like holding my tongue while Patrick questions traffic lights).
I think we all need to know that. I know I do.