Though it's just from a cute movie with catchy songs, we've talked often about those three little words in the last several months. Because...well.... that's exactly what we've needed to do on many levels and many times recently.
Letting go of physical stuff---clutter, too much of too many things. Letting excess go.
Letting go of too many activities, responsibilities, or things that rob us of too much precious time.
Letting go of lies, bitterness, and countless negative emotions.
The list can go on quite a bit longer, but one specific area has been coming back into our conversations often.
Letting go of the past.
Isn't that so much harder to do than we want to admit? For me, it definitely has been.
Kevin and I celebrated 19 years of marriage a little less than two weeks ago. For some reason, this year seemed BIG to us. It wasn't a big milestone like a 10th, 20th, 25th, etc... It's just a random number with no particular significance so to speak, but to us it was huge. Maybe it was because the previous few months had been so hard and we were thankful to take a moment out of the ordinary days and celebrate. Maybe it was because we have heavy hearts as we have seen so many important marriages fall apart around us (immediate family, mentors in our lives, dear friends, etc...). Maybe it was because we are growing and changing in our marriage and we are just so beyond thankful to be in this place.
Whatever it was...
19 felt big. Worth celebrating.
In the few days leading up to our anniversary, I found myself wanting to go through a big box of cards and letters that I had kept. For the most part, this box contained everything from our year of dating, the first year of marriage, and then several letters/cards from sporadic times through the years that really belonged in a different box but for some reason were in this particular one. It was PRICELESS to go back through and see our "falling in love" season so vividly. It was actually amazing. Amazing to remember it, to see how certain things had turned out, to see where God had provided different things, to rekindle so many precious moments.
Some of it was HARD to read. Some of it contained so much of our sharing with each other our backgrounds, our failures, our HARD STUFF. The stuff that was necessary to understand about each other in order to continue on with getting to know each other and marry. It was just FULL of the past. Lots of hurt. Lots of raw emotion. Lots of immaturity. :) Lots of just...baggage.
Some of it was written during some of our darker times, times that our marriage didn't seem like it was possible to be saved.
Some of it was written during very HARD times with situations that affected us deeply. Crushing times. We've been through countless valleys in our lives.
It caused some bubbling up of raw emotions to resurface as we either read together or I read alone.
I realized I had a choice to make. Let those dark moments reenter my thinking and cause doubts, frustration, and stress. Being honest, that's WAY too easy for me to do since I overthink, feel DEEPLY, etc...
Let it go.
We chose to let it go. We chose to thank God for those hard times. The times of our past before we met each other were times to teach us countless things. The times during our dating that we were learning about each other shaped us and had value. The memories of GREAT struggles in those darkest times throughout our marriage between the two of us or in situations from others that hurt us, allowed us to see where God stepped in, either in the situation or in our own hearts.
We let it go.
We burned them. We read them and then physically burned them. I'm a visual person. It's why I surround myself with pictures, scriptures, notes, and beautiful things as reminders. I'm also a symbolic person. I love to choose and receive gifts that symbolize something specific or evoke a specific emotion. I'm a romantic at heart so I grasp on to the "little" things and hold them special in my heart (which is why I have over 300 cards and letters between Kev and I and countless ones from mentors and friends over the years).
I wanted to make a symbolic gesture that said:
It didn't mean those times didn't hurt. It doesn't mean that there are times that Satan brings them to mind. (This can be a daily battle at times!)
They needed to go.
They needed to go up in flames.
On our next date night, we planned a relaxing and connecting night (we actually enjoyed our first EVER massages!) and then went to one of our favorite date spots at a local park. A place where we've spent LOTS of time talking, praying, dreaming, and working through countless situations. A place where we realized that dates don't need lots of money: just two people sharing their hearts.
And we let it go.
Up in flames!
It's not a matter of hiding the past (though we do agree that some things were best to not be read by someone some day when we are gone from this earth). It's not about pretending things didn't happen or that hard times don't come to everyone. It's not about only remembering the good times and pretending the bad times didn't happen or didn't exist. They most certainly come and can come often!
It's the fact that we've been through the fire together. Fires that were from our own doing---our own selfishness and disobedience. Fires that we were forced to walk through again and again that we didn't heap on ourselves but had to walk through regardless.
It's a moment of symbolizing that we've gone through the fire and come out together. It's symbolizing there will be more fires in the days and years to come, but we have the confidence to know that we can come through together with HIM as our guide. It's a moment of symbolizing that hurt leaves scars, but the wounds can heal.
It's about just letting it go.
Letting go of the past and its damage. Embracing the healing, renewal, redemption and restoration that comes through a life in Christ. Embracing the fact that we can learn and move on.
That's what we've done.
That's what we'll continue to do.
Learning from the ashes.