Holding Too Tightly To Things We Need to Release

Driving west away from my office I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful sky. The problem is there are so many houses and trees my view is somewhat impeded.

The thought comes to me: “when I get to the top of the highway on-ramp I’ll have an unhindered view.” So I pull out my phone, roll down the window, and get the camera mode ready. I couldn’t wait to capture this spectacular sky.

The clover leaf on-ramp rises, the full horizon opens up and I take a few snaps. This is kind of dangerous driving a curve, readying to merge, while taking photos. The voice of sensibility. But I want an unobstructed image. One more…maybe past that road light. The longing for the perfect photo.

Wait for it!




It’s amazing how quickly our mind works. Complete thoughts flooded my mind in split seconds. “How am I going to explain this?” “Should I stop and look for it?” “Should I keep going because my phone has got to be toast?” “I’ll just keep going.” “I should stop and see.” “Maybe it survived.”

I saw my phone fall and bounce in my rear view mirror. The bounce and the separation of parts etched in my mind. I stopped. I laughed. I can’t believe this. Why on earth did I do this? What will possibly be left of it?

Walking back along the highway toward the parts I thought, You just don’t get to walk along the highway often. Duh, really? Only when you do something dumb like this. The bright yellow Golden State Warriors case lay in the middle of the lane. I waited as another car by.


This isn’t particularly smart walking on the highway. But I noticed the phone had slid off the lane on the safe side of the white traffic line. Jogging across the lane, I pick up the surprisingly intact device. The backing appears scratch free, but I feared looking at the front. When I turn it over, at first glance it looks unscathed. As I look closer there is a nice crunched area near the home button.

I push an activation button and the phone comes alive.

It survived.

Last Shot Before Flying_Full
The image my camera caught before flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

I can’t believe it. Two cars passed after I dropped the phone, and at least one ran over the case. The case is toast, but my phone survived. I laughed again. Gonna need to post this to Facebook.

But it made me think: there are some things we hold on too tightly too in life…but there are also things we don’t cling to tightly enough. Case in point, my phone.

What do we hold onto too tightly in life, that maybe, just maybe it might benefit us to loosen our grip of? I’m just not smart enough to come up with an amazing list so I collected some thoughts from people far more profound than me. This is what we came up with.

1. Being right all the time
2. Grudges and hurts
3. Our failures (thinking they define us…they don’t)
4. Our reputation (what others think of us)
5. Other’s opinions of us (they don’t tell the whole story of our life)
6. A perfect view of self (self-preservation, preserving a spotless reputation)
7. Money and Possessions (they are replaceable)
8. People (Some toxic relationships we need to just let go of)
9. People pleasing (always trying to make the people around you happy)
10. Control (the idea that we have control over much at all in life)
11. Controlling our kids (they are never really controllable anyway)
12. Perception (that my view of the world is the only right one)
13. What I’m feeling at this very moment is not indicative of my life as a whole
14. Cultural baggage or values (if they don’t benefit others or if they bring harm to others)
15. Attachments (nothing should be master over us, or we live enslaved to it)
16. Our wants (needing something so badly that it impacts relationships negatively, or lead to addictions)
17. Ways we have learned to protect ourselves (even if they don’t serve us well or if they keep us from loving others well)
18. Our rights (entitlements, think the world owes us something)
19. Our appearance (thinking our significance is based primarily on how we appear to the world)
20. Desire for perfect security
21. A fairy-tale life (a life without problems)

There are also things we don’t hold to tightly enough. Said another way, perhaps there are things we don’t pay enough attention to that we need to cling more tightly to:

1. Our need for community (for others to be involved in our lives and story)
2. Relationships! (It’s easy to take them for granted, or eject if they get messy, but people are part of the healing process for us)
3. Admitting our needs to others (and acknowledging that others can help us)
4. Accepting our brokenness—that it is ok to not be perfect
5. The process of healing in areas of hurt or trauma (we may need to embrace the thought of entering into that process even if it scares the crap out of you)
6. Love (It’s easy to forget we are loved…when we forget, our focus shifts to other things or efforts…everything in life flows out of how well we internalize being loved)
7. Making the most of opportunities with our kids vs. the pursuit of moving up the ladder of success
8. Our self-awareness (growing in identify and validating our feelings)
9. Growth areas we become aware of
10. Good feedback from a trusted source, even if it is hard to hear or take in
11. How our lives impact others for good or bad—and knowing we can choose to do something differently
12. Our story has value to ourselves
13. Our story we tell others adds value to their life
14. We need to hold tightly to the pursuit of the “redeemed me” that makes up my unfinished story
15. There is a “God Element” of our story—how he redeems the painful parts and carries us through difficulties
16. Truth (God’s truth that you have value, worth and are deeply loved as a basis for a healthy view of self)
17. God deeply delights in us as people.  Zephaniah 3:17b states “He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you.”
18. Prayer—it is steadying and strengthening endeavor which bring calm to our soul.

19. Embracing we are people in process

Perhaps the list is too long to ingest. But pick one item from each list that resonates with you and ponder letting go or embracing more fully. We are all people in process, and because of that our lives are messy. It is somehow freeing to admit we are messy and need help.

There is a great song that talks about loosening our grip on the things we hold so tightly. Tenth Avenue North’s song Control (Somehow You Want me) speaks poignantly to almost all these points. Maybe it might resonate with you as it did with me.

I hope your Uh-Oh! moments will lead you to smile and laugh. I had to laugh as the phone flew out of my hands onto the highway. What am I losing? Well, it’s just a phone. But actually I’m learning much more from this event than to not hold your phone outside a moving vehicle. I’m learning that sometimes letting go of things I think are important is a good thing.

Wandering on Purpose!

2 thoughts on “Holding Too Tightly To Things We Need to Release

  1. To add to your list of things to let go of (or loosen your grip on): Wishing your parents were the way you think they should be.


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