Every December I read Ann Voskamp’s book The Greatest Gift. It really helps me focus on Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas. (I highly recommend it!) I read the same words every year, but this time, the words I am about to share with you, became what I knew God wanted me to do in 2021. “There is no need to produce or perform or perfect—simply become a place for God. That is all.” Voskamp
Just be a place for God. Sounds simple doesn’t it—or does it? What has to happen in order for me to do that? If I am going to make more room for God in my life, what must I do to make that happen?
Every January, when I take down the Christmas decorations, I like to use this time to start to declutter the rooms in my house. I like to go room by room and get rid of things that I no longer use. I get rid of things to make space and get organized. I have to release those things in order to clean out the clutter. This is a visual representation of what we have to do to make space for God. We need to release the things that are cluttering our lives.
Letting things go and releasing can bring so much relief and joy. Let me share some words from John Eldredge. “And so it follows that if we can receive help for restoring and renewing our weary, besieged souls, we’ll enjoy the fruits (which are many and wonderful) of happy souls and also be able to receive more of God (which is even more wonderful). We’ll find the vibrancy and resiliency we crave as human beings, living water welling up from deep within. And then—we’ll get our lives back!”
Jesus was a great releaser. He modeled the ability to leave situations and release them to HIs Heavenly Father. Mark 1:35-37 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and sent off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for Him, and when they found Him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
“Jesus models a freedom of heart I think every one of us would love to have. His ability to disengage Himself from His world is so alluring.” Eldredge
I have always taken on way too much for my soul to be able to bear. I haven’t been good at disengagement or release. I have looked at Jesus and said to myself, “How can He just walk away? How is He able to do that?” My answer finally came to me while reading the book Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge.
“Repeated exposure to enmeshed relationships can prevent the developing child from becoming aware of and knowing herself physically as well as emotionally. The lines between empathizing (identifying with and understanding another person’s feelings or difficulties), and over identifying (becoming enmeshed with another person) vanish.” Ann Chanler
I cried after I read those words because I knew that person was me! I spent my childhood over identifying and becoming enmeshed with my parents and siblings. I took on the problems that were in my family and tried to be the answer to them by performing and pleasing. I not only did that with my family, but also with my friends. I took on so many burdens that I had no business taking on. It was what I thought I was supposed to do. I had no concept of how to be healthy. The words detach, disentangle and release were completely foreign to me.
I think that was why I was so eager to find Jesus. I knew deep inside that I needed a Savior. I was desperate to find someone to help me deal with so many issues and burdens that I had taken on. But even with Jesus in my life, I struggled with releasing things to Him. I was so enmeshed in so many problems, that I had a hard time letting them go!
“Jesus invites us into a way of living where we are genuinely comfortable turning things over to Him.” Eldredge I can say that I am finally able to do that! I have this friend who inspires me every time I am with her. She is always saying, “God’s got this! He is in control and He is all over this situation.” Her words remind me that He is perfectly capable of taking care of every need, worry, concern, burden or problem that I have. He wants me to release them to Him so He can take care of them.
For those of you, who are like me and take burdens on, I want to help you be aware of something that I didn’t realize was a problem until recently. “We are far more entangled with the world than we know. And the thing is, people and causes have a way of entangling themselves with you too.” I find myself struggling so much in this area. I see my mom in lock down at her assisted living and I take on that burden. I see what the virus is doing to so many people and I take on that burden. I see what is happening in our country and I take on that burden. You get where I am going with this. Before I know it, I am completely loaded up with burdens! This is not healthy!
Instead of doing that, I am learning to say, “I can’t do anything about ______________ , but You can Lord. So, I release it/them to You.” I can’t. But God can! This is the healthy way to live!!
I took on some very bad habits when I was younger because I thought I could save my family. I thought I could make things better. I was wrong. I am not God. No matter what I did, it was never enough. I was not meant to be the Savior of my family. I carried those bad habits into adulthood. They have been very detrimental to me. They have put me in a position that God never intended me to be in. I see that now. I can’t save anyone! Only HE can! That’s what releasing does. It gives me freedom, relief and joy to know that I am giving my burdens to the only One who can do something!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
There are many more verses in the Bible that tell us the same thing. God wants us to release, detach and disentangle ourselves from the world we live in. We aren’t made to handle everything. I wasn’t made to take on everyone else’s burdens. God is the only one who is able to take everything on! And let me add that He doesn’t want us living our lives burdened down. He is telling us to come to Him because He has a far better way for us to live. We simply have to do this because He tells us to.
I know this isn’t easy. I have spent my life doing it wrong. No more! I am changing the way I do things. I have been practicing releasing for a few weeks now. I can honestly say that I have more joy! My circumstances haven’t changed, but I have because I am releasing. Sometimes I have to release the same thing over and over, but I am going to keep doing it. I want to make as much room for God as I possibly can.
When I first started this post, I mentioned that I wanted to be a place for God in 2021. That was before I started reading Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge. (God always puts things in front of me at just the right time!) I started reading about releasing, detaching, disentangling and being enmeshed. I felt like the words were directed at me. I couldn’t believe it when my eyes came across these words. “As you practice release, what you’re doing is creating soul space; you are literally carving out the intellectual and emotional space for God to come in.”
I stopped reading and had to put the book down. I picked it back up and read those words again. I started crying. (My normal reaction to when God does things for me.) Do you see what He did for me? I told Him that I wanted to be a place for Him this year. I really wasn’t sure what that meant at the time. Then He leads me to read this book and then shows me how to do it!
People– He is alive and working in our lives. He is there! No doubt about it. I pray 2021 will be a year that draws all of us closer to God. I pray we will lean on Him, learn from Him and lay our burdens at His feet so He can give us rest.
Until next time…..
*Remember these words: God’s got this! He is in control and He is all over our situations!