Many of you spent the weekend celebrating your mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters, and your friends – me too. As I reflected on the journey of motherhood, I came across this quote which I found combined my mothering and counseling worlds in a way I thought you might find encouraging and challenging – I did.
“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars.
You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”
– C.S. Lewis
The other day at the park, my five-year-old crossed the monkey bars by himself for the first time. While a seemingly ordinary task, and one undertaken by kids everywhere on a daily basis, this was a monumental accomplishment in our world. We have spent countless hours at parks practicing our monkey bar crossing skills. Up until last week when victory was attained, this process normally went something like this:
“Mom, can you help me cross the monkey bars?”
To which I would reply, “of course, just wait for me to get there so you don’t fall.”
I would then gently lift him up to the monkey bars and carefully stand under him, often holding his legs so he could get across the monkey bars. Attempts to step away and let him try for himself were met with fear and panic on his side and an immediate return to my position to reassure him he would be fine.
I am sure many of you have had a similar experience with kids, and it hit me in that moment of victory that there are so many challenges for little ones in crossing the monkey bars that are similar to the challenges we face in overcoming in our own lives. It occurred to me that some of the same barriers that keep kids from letting go on the monkey bars to reach for the next one also keep us from “letting go” in our lives. So what are some things we might need to let go of?
- Fear and Anxiety. For my son, it was fear that he might fall. For us, it’s often of the unfamiliar – what will it be like? Will I be loved? What if everything changes? Maybe you need some help to find peace and rest.
- Frustration and Anger. My son would get mad for not being able to do it; up until now, he just couldn’t move forward on his own. Maybe you hold on to anger toward someone that prevents you from moving forward. Maybe it keeps you from the forgiveness that you need to offer yourself or someone else.
- Resentment and Bitterness. My son would watch others easily accomplish the bars and become frustrated with them. Maybe you have been holding on to feelings of bitterness or resentment toward someone who has hurt you. The truth is, it’s most likely more damaging to you than it is to the one who hurt you.
- Grief and Loss. Ok, not so much for the monkey bars, but for you, sometimes the pain of a loss has become unbearable. Maybe it’s time to find hope.
This list is by no means all-inclusive. Maybe what’s causing you to hold on so tightly is something else entirely! And sure, moving on from these things probably does seem more challenging than the monkey bars at the park, but that’s why we’re here – because like my son needed someone standing under him, you need the same encouragement and support in your process of “letting go.” And any one of us here at Cornerstone would truly consider it an honor to be there for you in your journey. Won’t you take that first step?