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Letting Go and Holding On


Recently, I met some interesting couples who have married, divorced, and remarried again to the same person. I actually met three such couples in one day! Being a baby boomer myself, that reality sounded strange. You see, most of my friends fell in love, got married, and stayed married to the same “honey-dos” for 40 or more years — for better or for worse. So what is this new thing of marrying, divorcing, and reuniting? I went on a brief search to see how common it is and found a 2012 article in a Chicago Tribune. The article reported a research study of 1,001 remarried couples from around the world and found it is rare, with only 6 percent of the couples remarrying the same person.

When I asked the couples I met why they divorced and remarried again, they said that differences, youth, and other partners drove them apart the first time but that family and the good qualities they saw in each other kept them friends and brought them together again. Umm. Perhaps we all have something to learn from these couples, because even though only 6 percent remarry the same person, of those who did, 72 percent stayed together the second time around.

Is it possible to let go and hold on at the same time? According to the Urban Dictionary, ”letting go” means that you let your frustrations, anger, and bitterness go and eliminate the stress they bring. It goes on to say that the feelings tied with what you are letting go may still occupy your heart, but letting go helps you to get on with your life. On the other hand, “holding on” is the opposite. To hold on means to “hang in there,” to wait, to manage or continue to stay, and do or deal with something that is difficult, and to keep trying to succeed. How can we hold on to our dreams and meaningful relationships and yet let go of the bitterness, stress, and anger we may feel? When is it time to let go of unmanifested dreams, poor relationships, and toxic people and yet hold on to love, family, mutuality, forgiveness, and our very own souls?

I think time, patience, and faith may help us. In my own life I have had to let go and hold on. As many of you know I completed my pre-med studies at UCSB and at age 52 was accepted to Howard University College of Medicine. However, after a year and a half of completing my courses, some with honors, I was dismissed from Howard for failing anatomy by one point. That was one of the bitterest pills I ever had to swallow. It hurt so badly to let go of my dream of becoming a doctor. I was shocked, hurt, and numb for months. However, because I had always seen myself on the bridge between medicine and ministry, when I applied to medical school I had also applied to Yale University Divinity School, and the same year I was accepted to both. Therefore, after the bitter disappointment at Howard a year later, I went on to Yale to complete a Master of Divinity. Since then I have been working and visioning the many ways medicine and health and faith and ministry are connected. However, letting go of becoming a doctor was still hard. Then last Saturday came.

I was speaking with the dean of Religious Studies at Loma Linda University. It was about a totally unrelated topic, and I just happened to say, I am not sure why, “I am thinking about completing my doctorate of ministry,” and the dean said, “Oh, we are just beginning a new doctorate, the first in the nation, a doctor of health and ministry.” Sometimes we have to wait for even history to unfold to see our letting go and holding on manifested. Let go of things that hurt you, and hold on to love, peace, and joy, and wait, you too will see the sun rise on your dreams.

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