Friday, April 27, 2012

The Power of Letting Go

I am powerless over so many things -- changing another person, the weather, the stock market, Tourette Syndrome, crazy drivers, power outages, health changes, infertility, and the list goes on. Could you add to the list?

For years I equated being powerless with helpless. But my journey has helped me see that I may be powerless to change my circumstances, but I am not helpless in them. I may not like them, but I always have a choice about how I will respond. When I finally accept what I am powerless to change, only then do I see what I can change and grow spiritually.

The only thing I have the power to change is me. And maybe that is why I resist admitting I am powerless. For years, I didn't want to see that. But I've learned, slowly, that I can always choose my attitude. I can choose if I want to stay stuck. I can choose if I want to ask for help.

Sometimes I don't want to choose. I want to try to change other people or fight against my circumstances.  I don't want to accept what I can not change. But that just feels miserable after a while.

If you are familiar with the 12 Steps of AA and Al-Anon, then you know that the first step is to admit you are powerless and your life has become unmanageable. These steps have brought me so much healing and helped me discover how much God cares for me. Truly, truly cares for me.

I now know what happens when I try to control what I am powerless over. I get crazy. I get irritable without even knowing it. I make frantic decisions. I don't have any peace in my soul.

My son struggles with Tourette Syndrome. He is a courageous boy who has learned to live his life with a disability. As his mom, I wish that I could take away the struggle. I have had to admit I am powerless over Tourette Syndrome and how it affects our family life. I don't like it some days. I wish we didn't have to live with it. Some days I don't know how to parent a child with a disability. Or I think I can handle it on my own. My recovery work has helped me know how to navigate life with Tourette's.

When I admit I am powerless, I begin to discover that I am truly not helpless. I can turn over my life to the care of God and ask him for help. And this is where I want to live. This is where I know peace.  It's where life becomes an adventure!

Our son struggles to enter into large crowds. He has always struggled with this, but now we know why. Tourette Syndrome often includes sensory defensiveness and obsessive compulsive tendencies. Recently, we went on a retreat with our faith community. We knew he would struggle but were surprised by how much he regressed. Getting out of the cabin to go to breakfast the first morning was a nightmare. (From my perspective!) We finally got out the door, and it didn't get much better.

On the way back to our cabin after the morning activities and lunch, I finally let go. I was tired of nagging, fighting, reasoning and threatening. Nothing was working. I asked God to help me let go and show me how to move forward.

This is when my faith and my life collide.  When I step back and let go of control. I admit that I am powerless over the situation and need help. I let go and ask God for help. I get out of the way.

Later, we let our son know that this situation was not working for our family. We told him we were not mad, but we were not going to continue to stay if things didn't change. We let him know that he needed to decide if he wanted to stay or go home by dinner time.

And then I let go. I let go of the outcome. I let go of expectations. I enjoyed the afternoon.

Our son had a great afternoon. He made the choice to stay. And he didn't want the weekend to end!

When we got home, we debriefed and asked him what we could have done differently. I shared with him how I don't like to sleep in strange beds so I like to see a picture of the hotel room on the internet before we go on a trip. That's how I take care of myself.

I asked him if it would have been helpful if we had let him look at the camp location on the internet before we went. He said, "No....but could we go early next time before everyone arrives so I can see the place without all the people first?"

Wow! What a great idea!  Yes! Yes! And how wonderful that he came up with it himself.

For me, that is the best part of letting go and asking God for help. It gives other people the freedom to grow and learn. I get out of the way! Our son discovered that weekend that he is not helpless. He has choices about how to live life with a disability.

May I learn from him how to be so brave!


  1. Oh, Kim! What a gifted, smart boy you've got. And a gifted, smart mommy, too. Thanks for this - we ALL need this reminder. Every.Dang.Day. :>)

    1. Thanks Diana. Yes. Yes. I am thankful that life is lived ONE day at a time. I am thankful for a wise God who helps me each step of the way. Blessings. (And thanks for reading through all my typos! I am a little out of practice since I haven't been writing for a while!)