Learning to Hold Things Loosely

The banner I feel like the Lord is holding over this current season of my life right now is “Learning to hold things loosely.”

I realized my need for this lesson during Christmas. I had been gifted an unexpected gift card and in the midst of waves of wrapping paper and opened boxes and trying to keep Claire from eating all the tissue paper in sight, I started picking all the packaging up from the floor and stuffing it into a garbage bag. And somewhere in that process, I never saw the gift card again.

When I realized it, I found myself upset and emotionally affected by the occasion. In my head, I could rationalize: I am no worse off than I was before I received it; I don’t need it; everything is really God’s and I am but a steward.

But the truth is that all that rang empty at the moment. I knew those things in my mind, but it was obvious my heart didn’t follow suit. My heart still was frustrated and upset about losing it, even when I knew I shouldn’t be because in the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. Yet, in my heart, it still was a big deal.

And it was in that flurry of emotions that I felt the Lord nudge me toward this idea of learning to hold things loosely.

I’d heard that phrase many times over the past decade in my walk as a Christian. That idea of letting control over to God, not holding fast to the things of this world but instead to the things eternal. I’d heard it and could nod along with it and understand it, but it had never really struck me as it did right now, in that moment.

In that moment I realized my need for that ability to hold things loosely, to allow things–material things, stressful things, frustrating things, my sense of convenience, etc.–sift through my fingers like sand rather than clench them in my fist, trying to hold them for myself.

I began to see, mostly through my emotions, how much of a burden the alternative can cause me. How it makes me stress over things that really don’t matter and start to believe all sorts of lies about myself, the world and God, and how it makes me feel doomed and discouraged and just downright disgusted.

Though I saw that, I felt myself resisting in turning things over to God, to give him the freedom to take things away from me, to trust that he can fill in the gaps or multiply the loaves without me having to hold fast to every last crumb. I can let go and watch him provide, one way or another.

It can be a scary thing to let go to God, no matter how long you’ve been a Christian and how many miracles you’ve seen him work. I wrestled with it and pleaded that he would not yank everything from me and force me to loosen my grip, but that he would work this lesson into my heart gently, gradually, softly and sweetly.

What a compassionate Father that he would heed that scared little prayer of mine. Since that revelatory Christmas morning, he has been so sweet and gentle in teaching me this lesson, in stretching me in the smallest of ways, like you might stretch a balloon before blowing air into it. A small stretch at first, another tug later, another and then another until it’s ready to withstand the surge of air that gives life to its flimsy body.

I can feel his puffs entering into me. I can feel the small stretches that tug at my heart. I can see him fulfilling each one, showing me that it isn’t so bad, that I really can trust him, that I really can loosen my grip and watch him and his love flourish in that loosening.


  1. Oh man. I needed this today.

    I'm having such trouble trusting, and those tugs really hurt today. Thank you for this post.

  2. Thank you for this. We're expecting our first baby in just over a month, and I find I am holding a few things too tightly when it comes to hopes, expectations and even fears.
    Bless you.

  3. Yes! Such a great reminder. My perspective is so easily lost but when I sit back and remember that God is in control of everything, it's such a relief!


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