Let go and let God

Once upon a time, Nephi Guymon (yes that’s his real name, check out @nephiguymon on twitter, he’s freaking hilarious) and I were missionaries. On a daily basis, we offered hope to people who would accept additional truth in their lives.

We often met with a lady named Brenda. (There are tons of jokes that go with that, Nephi knows, but today is a serious memory of her.)

For the record, Brenda was more than a little off her rocker–in our naivete, we chose not to see that immediately–and had her brain more than a bit addled by prior drug use.

However, she’d often tell us “Let go and let God.” She’d just repeat it over and over. As a grammarian, I never really got it. Honestly, I still don’t. It is a phrase that needs completing: “let God ___[what?]___”

I’ve been thinking about the phrase recently. I’m not sure I understand it much better, but perhaps if I complete the phrase with “let God be in charge” it makes more sense.

The last ten months have been an exercise in this for me. I’ve had about zero control over the course of my life, and that has completely startled me and left me pretty without hope. Many times I’ve had to let go of the control I wanted to exercise and just let God ______. Honestly I have no idea what He’s done with the control I’ve given Him. I may not know for a while. But I know He does stuff. That’s the benefit of leaving the blank space; something is happening; I just have to trust it.

Some things have surfaced, so I could see what He’s done and some of the purposes of my endurance (I hate that word: “overcoming” is my goal), but much of the time I’m left with a blank in the “let God _____” category. I don’t know what He’s done.

So I say this different than did Brenda. Her phrase was final: “Let go and let God.” Mine is open-ended. Let go and let God ______.

Connections between trials and gratitude

As I’ve experienced incredible difficulty, I’ve noticed something change in my life. 

I say thank you a lot more. 

Some of those who have been most helpful to me might be tired of hearing me say those two words. Often I don’t elaborate of why I am thankful. Those reasons are often too close to my emotional breakin points. 

Sometimes “thank you” is all I can manage. But I manage it. It’s important for me to acknowledge to them that they’ve been helpful. I’ve needed so much help–I’ve needed help in ways I never thought I would and I’ve needed assistance with things I’m not able to do myself. 

As I’ve struggled, I’ve become more humble. I’ve had to ask for help. I believe acknowledging that help is critical, and I’ve had a lot of practice at it. 

Saying “thank you” has helped me keep close to my friends and to Heavenly Father. Please don’t wait until you struggle to say “thank you” more often. It’s not worth enduring the trials I have to learn something so simple. 

Thank you, my incredible students

Before I left the high school, I was very upfront with my students about what I was experiencing and why I chose to leave them. I cited many reasons that you read in my post from two weeks ago (On life, unmet expectations, and the impact of depression), as well as a several professional needs that finally solidified my decision.

At the end of that lesson, I asked them to choose a teacher who had the most influence on them while they had been at the school and write to the teacher describing that influence and saying thank you.

The students signed their names to the notes, and I delivered them to the teachers’ boxes before I left.

Surprisingly (perhaps not), many of my students wrote to me. I’d like to use the remainder of the post to thank them.

My dear student:

I wish I could respond personally to your note to me. Alas I am now locked out of any district servers that had access to personal student data.

However, you are the reason I feel I was somewhat successful as a teacher. Thursday night, after the semester ended, I went home and waffled for two hours about whether I should read the note you wrote me.

I finally decided to. As I read your kind, heartfelt words and added them to those of your several peers who also wrote me, I could barely contain my emotions and more than once I had to wipe the tears that blurred your words.

I had a difficult time this semester. You did, too. I’m grateful to have recognized that and said and did things that helped you through it. We helped one another. When I struggled to get out of bed, I knew I had to because you needed me there. You you similarly struggled, I’m glad I provided an environment where you wanted to be.

Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with me. Your stories, your scriptures, your vulnerability are things I will treasure and hold to when times get rough in my future.

Because of what you did for me this semester, and because of what you shared with me in your note, I currently have written on my bathroom mirror: “Do my students proud.” You remain a motivation to me as I go forward to conquer the world before me.

I wish you the best. Please stay in touch. You’re one of only 150. I know who you are, and will remember you when you email me. You made a difference to me: you kept my head above the crashing waves of self-doubt and depression.

Thank you.