“Let go and let God.” “Why are you choosing to stay in a situation when there’s a way out?” “Quit!” Just delete-block-bye.
“Quit!” That was one of the first words that opened a new week of conversation between me and my mother. I was 19, tired with the fight gone, depressed and ready to quit college. Every other Monday, my walls came crushing down-Jericho style– and destroyed my two pulas of ambition, drive and self-esteem. And every other Monday, my mother, who was 300km away from me, trying to cope with life on her own while I whizzed through modules, received a text like this; “I QUIT! I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE! THIS WAS YOUR IDEA AND I HATE IT! I AM DONE!”
The unnerving reply always was “Quit! You want to quit? Quit!” Other times, I was rather sublime, and communicated in calmer ways, “Hi mom. Miss you loads. I’m quitting school and coming back home. I figure I can’t do this anymore. There’s more to life than criminal procedure, CPTED, and theoretical criminology. See you soon.” Now for this I always got an immediate phone call, and she’d hear me laughing with friends sitting on a patch of grass eating fatcakes and soup and promising her that I would call back.
Really. I know. But I never did quit college. I was there faithfully at the next class, participating and making ridiculously funny comments until everybody was able to participate, I was still reading; still pacing across campus to get things done; still faithful to church attendance; still browsing through Ebscohost; still going on. Last year October, I even did the things of graduation. I am so proud, but prouder still is the woman who lived through all my episodes of “So you think you can quit?!” every other semester. And seeing I made it made her proud.
However, I’ve learnt that it takes more to let go than to stay; even at college. Ironically, one would think that letting go of something is easy, but it is hard. Letting go is difficult to the mind and heart. The physical measure of holding on to something may be proved to be far greater than letting go, but psychology says it is far more difficult to let go of a reality that has been with you for a very long time. Freeing oneself from a painful situation doesn’t happen instantaneously, it takes time. It takes strength.
Sometimes, we are insensitive to the feelings of others when we make brash remarks about problems they are seemingly “choosing to stay in”. Gender-based violence, subtle abuse in romantic relationships, toxic friendships, enmity flowing from the past into the future, being hurt by the ones you love the most, being failed by the system. “Why don’t you just pack your bags and walk out?” “Why do you keep staying?” “If I were you…” And they come flowing like Jordan’s stormy banks. Being emotionally tied to a situation that has seared deep into you life with every passing year just requires a person to have more strength to let go. Sometimes, you don’t want to hurt the other person, but the other person is hurting you. Maybe it is pride or guilt or your insecurities keeping you settled in a situation where you fully recognize is not the best place you can be. Maybe, you don’t believe in you.
If a hip meta-modern philosopher came to me and claimed that letting go is an art, honestly I’d believe him. It takes a lot to let go. I’d like to believe there are graces in finally being able to say “That was my past, I am letting go.” I wish I had a Biblical example for this, but God does give us strength to let go. And sometimes, it takes a few good months or years, to get the hang of what we are called unto and to fully live in it. Your mind and heart can be renewed. Our strength is not the same, neither are our weaknesses. But the best we can do is be there for one another and strengthen one another in prayer to let go.
There is a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go.