Breathing Room Blog Book Club — Chapter 25
I was sitting at My Group last night, talking with girls I love so deeply and have walked so many miles with. We talked about tasks, expectations, plans, decor, ideas, assumptions . . . we told stories about what has happened in our lives since we last met, what we’re looking forward to, what is on the docket for each of us this month. We talked about relatives visiting and test scores and paint colors and babies and Christmas cards. We talked about childcare and baking and therapy. We talked about birthday plans and birthing plans and eyelash extensions and trauma. And threaded through it all . . . was letting go.
What do I need to let go of so I can hold onto what matters most?
Chapter 25 — letting go — is perhaps one of the most central chapters in all of Breathing Room, one that anchors the core theme of the entire book. What do you and I need to let go of so we can fully live? This is certainly a big sweeping question — about our lifestyles and our values and our life rhythms — but it’s also a daily practice, too. Today, this minute, this hour, is there something you need to let go of that’s not serving you? Something that, if you were to relinquish it, would create a greater capacity for space, grace, and breathing room in your life? What help do you need in order to let that something go?
Daily, I have to let go of my fears, my frustration with my own humanity, my self-doubt, my self-aggrandizement, my reluctance, my need to fix and solve and figure it all out. Hourly, even, I have to do those things . . . ask God for the grace to open my hands and breathe. To stop trying to constantly do his job for him.
This is the time of year when all our best intentions collide with our real time capacity. It’s an invitation — often one I don’t particularly appreciate — to open our arms and receive our humanity, as we receive God coming to us in the human form. It’s a celebration, oddly, of fragility, limits, flesh. God chose a human body. He let go, so we could truly live. And as we embrace the humanity of God, may we also embrace the humanity of ourselves and each other.
This isn’t necessarily about whether or not we send Christmas cards this year or we bake peanut butter balls or we do or don’t put Christmas lights on the outside of our homes. This isn’t about how many activities we schedule, parties we attend, or platters we deliver. It really has nothing to do with all that, as we all have completely different capacities and normals this holiday season. Two years ago, Steve had hip surgery, and our capacity that year was just completely different than our capacity this year. In 2008, I was deeply pregnant with two babies at this time of year, and our capacity — after bringing them into the world on December 23 — was totally different than the years before and since. I was laying in hospitable bed that Christmas.
It’s not so much about what you and I choose to do or don’t do. It’s deeper, more essential than all that. It’s about letting go of the ways we tell ourselves we must function in order to be loved.
When you have a chance, read the story at the end of Chapter 25, the one about the little girl in Miss Leonard’s class. It is the most poignant reminder of how we are loved in all our humanity.
We come to the door with all our maladies and brokenness only to be received with revolutionary love.
No matter what you and I decide to hold onto and what we decide to let go of this Christmas, let it be motivated by one thing: Our humanity. Let us live and give and love from our fleshy, limited, fragile, messy, magical humanity. Not from a slicked-up version of ourselves that must function in a certain way in order to be loved and accepted.
If the Christmas story tells us anything, it tells us this: It’s holy to be human.
It’s holy to let ourselves be imperfect.
It’s holy to let ourselves let go.
It’s holy to let ourselves be touched by the miracle.
It’s holy to let ourselves be loved.
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