Basketball team affiliation was all-important when I was a kid growing up in the sandhills of eastern North Carolina. The UNC - NC State rivalry was epic at the time, and although my parents had zero interest in sports, we were a Tarheel family. That identity solidified when I moved to Chapel Hill after college and attended the games live…but eventually I tired of the emotional roller coaster. Many of my friends thrived on the “thrill of victory and agony of defeat” cycles, but for me it became a drag. A frustrating attachment. So I let go of it.
This week I was hanging with my brother Josh and in the course of conversation he mentioned an old adage: Let go or get dragged. I chuckled at the mental image, and we moved on.
The next day—Christmas Eve, mind you—I was working at our rental property, and things were not going well. I was trying to cut through a timber with a saw, and both batteries for my tool died. Then I couldn’t find my key to the supply closet. Then I was hauling downed trees and trash, and my wet hands became so cold that they ached painfully and I had to stop. I know, first world problems!
Driving home, fuming over my lack of progress, I remembered Josh’s line—Let go or get dragged. “Yep,” I muttered, “I let myself get dragged far too often! Why do I do that to myself?”
Kellie chimed in helpfully, “It’s our attachments that cause our suffering.” I know, I know…and yet still I find myself emotionally bruised and bloodied, flailing along, white-knuckled grip on what I want to achieve—when all I have to do to stop the pain is let go of the rope. The rope of what I want to accomplish in a day, the rope of my-will-be-done, my-kingdom-come.
This is not your typical New Year’s pitch. Most of what you hear in January are calls to use your will to attach yourself to fresh goals for the year. I believe in goals…but the further I go in my journey, the more I’m drawn toward riding the horse than getting dragged behind it. Are you with me?
Riding the horse is allowing the energy of God’s purposes to carry me forward through my day in a sacred flow that is more about responding to openings and opportunities than trying to force my agenda. It’s not passive; instead, it derives its focus from a deeper source. It’s more willing than willful. It’s about recognizing divine initiatives and letting go of my own.
What would that have looked like on Christmas Eve? I wonder. Next time I find myself getting dragged behind the horse of my frustrated agenda, I hope I can pause long enough to figure out what God is up to and mount up on his agenda. Or at least let go of the rope!
Instead of using the traditional time management techniques today of making task lists, prioritizing, and organizing, try quieting the chatter of your mind, becoming aware of your breath, and listening to the Holy Spirit’s prompts and invitations for your day. Then get on that horse!
And when you find yourself hours later (or even minutes) striving and straining, do it again. Pause, listen, re-center.
Let go…or get dragged!