An Encouraging Word – Letting go and holding on

Father J. Ronald Knott

Father J. Ronald Knott

Come now, let us set things right! Isaiah 1:18

People who know me might call me “driven.” Mental health professionals might call me “obsessive-compulsive.”

I feel responsible — responsible for using my gifts and talents, responsible for making the church look good and responsible for making the world a better place. I certainly am not the “assistant savior of the world,” but sometimes I try to act like it. I get on my own nerves when I do.

People who take responsibility seriously get a lot done. There is an upside to that and a down side. The upside is that you have a lot to show for your work. The downside is that you pay a steep price for the work you get done.

“Energizer Bunnies” like us usually never take the time to stop and ask ourselves, “Is it worth it?” We just keep going and going and going. Our motto is,

“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

I have spent many years of my life teaching myself and others the dynamics of a passionate commitment to one’s own personal and vocational excellence. I have seen many amazing results of such a commitment, in my own life and in the lives of those I have had the luxury to teach.

The question we finally get to, however, is this: When is it time to stop or even start slowing down working that program?

When I “retired” in 2014, I had already put 13 speaking trips on my 2015 calendar. In 2015, I already had nine speaking trips on my 2016 calendar and now it is up to 15. When I actually get to 2017 and 2018, I predict that they too will be full unless I learn so say “no.”

I have always joked that I wanted to “burn out,” rather than “rust out.” At the rate I am going, it looks like I could get my wish unless I start learning to “let go.”

My problem is I don’t want to let go. “Letting go” sounds like something somebody said old people should do, so I want to scream back, “Who said so and why would they say that?”

I lean more toward the balance that says the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. Yes, there may be things I should and must let go of, but surely there are things I should and must hold on to.

The only kind of “letting go” I am interested in is simplifying my life by letting go of things that don’t matter, baggage that slows me down, junk that needs to be looked after, old hurts that have no chance of healing and relationships that drag me down.

I still want to hold on to my passion for seeing how far I can stretch myself, for meeting new people and going to new places, for exploring new ways of thinking and for cultivating personal and vocational excellence.

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