Life can be a lot like wandering along an unseen path through an unknown wilderness – sometimes we are graced by wildflowers and guided by the stars, and other times we are pricked, scraped, and bruised by thistles, thorns, and other sharp things.
Life, it seems, is beautiful but can also be brutal.
Difficult as it may be, sometimes this brutality is necessary. Sometimes the bumps and bruises along the way carry a hidden lesson – but it’s also important to remember that not every lesson requires bumps and bruises and that sometimes life is brutal, not because we need it, but because we allow it.
And sometimes recognizing this is the lesson.
One common way that we allow life’s brutalities is by sharing our path with those who lack respect for the journey. When we walk side by side with people who don’t reciprocate our love and respect, the scratches and scrapes that we encounter along the way can quickly change from life lessons to fruitless frustrations – and our only lesson ends up being how to let go.
Letting go isn’t nearly as simple as it sounds, particularly when we’re letting go of someone that we love or care for. For this reason, it’s important that we come to understand that keeping an open heart doesn’t necessarily mean that we must also keep an open door.
Ironically, it seems like we tend to close our hearts much faster than we close the door, which is to say that we tend to stop feeling faster than we stop letting someone in to our lives and our minds. Perhaps this is because the messes that people leave in our lives are much easier to clean up than those left in our hearts. Or perhaps it’s simply the fear of causing pain – whereas the heart is hidden from all but ourselves, the door to our lives is right out front where all can see; and the sound of that door closing can hurt, offend, and even enrage whoever is left on the other side.
These fears can lead us to believe that letting go is a selfish act, that being compassionate and caring means keeping someone around in thought and form. But the truth is that holding on can often do far more harm than letting go. The swift, clean severing of an unbalanced relationship is much easier to heal than the endless scratching and scraping of holding on.
And only after we heal ourselves can we hope to help others heal.
By allowing someone to continue hurting us, we are poisoning our inner world to protect their outer one – but what we often fail to realize is that what’s inside always finds a way to manifest outside, often infecting not only ourselves but also the very person that we fear hurting.
No matter how much we try to ignore, deny, or hide it, the soul knows when someone is poisoning it – and with time the soul will do whatever is necessary to keep that poison out. This is why it’s so important that we be courageous enough to let go of the toxic people in our lives. Because when we can’t close the door on them in the world, we will eventually feel compelled to close the door on them in our hearts – and while letting go may hurt for a moment, a closed heart will ache forever.
It really is okay to walk away from what’s causing you pain, and it’s not selfish to let go of those who are weighing you down. But remember that letting go doesn’t mean shutting down. It doesn’t mean that you stop loving. You can care deeply for someone without investing your thoughts in them and without expecting anything from them; you can love someone without being with them and you can understand someone without extending yourself towards them.
Love isn’t conditional – but a place in your life, in your mind, and at your table should be. You can love yourself enough to keep a well-lit and wide-open heart but still respect yourself enough to close the door.
©2016 Cristen Rodgers
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