At our church, we have a custom on the first Sunday of the year. It’s called the burning bowl.
Each member of the church writes down on a piece of paper something they would like to change in their life, or some worry they would like to let go of.
At the end of the church service, each person drops the paper into a bowl that the pastor holds at the back of the church, where it is lit. The paper burns, symbolizing the offending issue vaporizing into thin air and the person being rid of it.
I think what actually happens is the issue is out of sight and out of mind. A person tends to forget about it and move on the bigger and better things. At least, I think that’s what it’s supposed to do.
Except that last year it didn’t work for me. I totally forget what I wanted to forget the last few years before that, but not last year. Since I believed I was on the verge of becoming a full-fledged chocaholic, I thought that would be a good thing to put in the burning bowl and let go of.
However, as long as there is chocolate in the house, I will eat it. It could be that my heart wasn’t really into removing chocolate from my life. I didn’t really want to let go.
There are other things in our life that require letting go—for instance, our children and grandchildren. When they make poor judgments as they’re growing up, we want to step in and make decisions for them, instead of letting them work out their own solutions.
We sometimes forget about the dumb decisions we made when we were younger and still lived to tell the tale. On the other hand, sometimes our children don’t want to let go of us.
It took a long time for my sons to let go of their parents and get on their own. I used to keep the bed made up in their old bedroom, because I never knew when one of them would be moving back in for a while. That issue has been resolved.
It is probably emotionally healthy to let go of things over which we have no control. On the other hand, there are some things we have to fight for. We have to discern what is important and worth our time and energy and never let go.
Maybe, the hard part is discerning what is important.