Letting Go

“One at a time doesn’t weigh too much. All together is a different story.”

Man Praying

How do you let go of something you didn’t even know you were holding? In my previous post I wrote that during a counseling session I discovered I had been carrying something for almost three decades. (You can find it here – Holding On | My Sandbox )

Here are a couple of analogies describing how heavy things can become without our noticing:
Three decades ago I weighed less than I do right now. Not a few pounds less. More than 70 lbs. Gaining 2.5 lbs a year doesn’t seem like much until you look at the total.

If I asked you to carry a backpack weighing 70 lbs, you would more than likely notice the weight. If I asked you to carry an empty backpack, but over the course of time I occasionally added a few pounds, you would not necessarily be aware of how heavy it was becoming.

Back to the counseling session.

Why am I in counseling/therapy? Why aren’t you? Sorry. That was a bit confrontational. I’m seeing a counselor because I’m depressed. I have been for years. Big, bad, clinical, Major Depressive Disorder, soul sucking, medication taking, life numbing depression.

Wow. There it is. In black and white on the screen.

Typing it is easy. Speaking it with real words coming from my mouth is a different issue.

Speaking with words about the reasons for the depression is hard. I was holding one of those reasons. (Think “death grip”.)

It was comfortable. It came to me bit by bit. It became heavy. Too heavy. 18 years ago the weight became too much. That was the first time I saw a counselor. That was the start of the medication. The medication made the weight bearable again. It became comfortable again. That is until a few weeks ago.

I returned to counseling for the first time in over a decade. Why so long? I have no idea. Life had settled into a predictable rhythm. I forgot what I was holding. I was trying to survive at home and thrive at work. I did thrive at work. For 16 years I was very good at my job. From the perspective of my co-workers, employer, friends, fellow church members and the general public, I had a good life.

My wife, my two boys, and I knew better.

On April 30, 2013 it all changed.

I lost my job.

Now what?

God knew better too. He always knows better. He had a plan. I was clueless to His plan. Working 65 hours a week will make you clueless. Not reading His Word and not spending time talking to Him will make you clueless too. God decided to wake me up. I’m sure He had been nudging me a bit. I never felt it. If I did feel it I didn’t realize what the sharp painful poke was all about. I ignored it. I ignored God.

I didn’t think I was ignoring God. I was going to church every week. I was taking notes during sermons. I was teaching 7th graders every Sunday. I was singing praises to Him. But I didn’t get it.

I knew I was saved. I knew I was redeemed by the blood Jesus spilled for me. I understood all of it. My salvation is secure. Without a doubt.

But, I was missing something huge.

I was missing the full understanding of God’s forgiveness.

My counselor put me on the spot. I had told him there was something “back there”. I think it took me 20 minutes to speak the words. It was hard. I spoke the story. I spoke the words of where I believe my depression story began.

Here is how I was able to let go:
Counselor:  “Do you truly believe God has forgiven you?”
Me:  “Yes. I have no doubt.”
Counselor:  “Have you been able to forgive yourself?”
Me:  “No.”
Counselor:  “So you’re telling me your personal standard for forgiving yourself is higher than God’s.”
Me:  “Yep.”

I sat in silence as the realization and understanding came over me.

I let go.

The weight I had carried fell away.


What weight do you carry? Can you speak the words of your story?

Your ears need to hear your voice. Speak your story today.
#TRUTH  #Next3Decades


(There is much more to my story. Releasing this burden does not cure my depression. The chemical imbalance in my brain has not gone away. But, a huge burden has been lifted from my heart and now I can begin moving forward.)

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19 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Rick, you are AMAZING. Thank you for sharing this with us, and thank you for putting it so clearly.

    Counselor: “So you’re telling me your personal standard for forgiving yourself is higher than God’s.”
    Me: “Yep.”

    WOW! And Amen! God’s not done with you yet, mister. You are going to help so many people with this post.

  2. This is so perfect, this same realization came to me after reading Bob George’s “Classic Christianity” God’s forgiveness and grace seems so hard to accept when we carry the ruck sack of garbage around with us all the time. Thanks Rick!

  3. What an insightful counselor – are your standards higher than God’s? What a compelling blog post. Keep doing the hard work and sharing what you are learning. Your story can help others.

  4. Thanks for sharing for us younger guys Rick. We need more people who are willing to share more than just the good days. I’m thinking right now of some things that I can let go of.

  5. Wow. Just wow! Great article Rick. It’s amazing how many times we hold onto things, that God has truly lifted from us. It’s all about having faith. Thank YOU for reminding me of that! #boom

  6. Such a great post, Rick. I remember finally letting go of what was holding me back from trusting God completely and truly letting him in. Life’s never been the same since. Excited for you and this journey you’re on. Keep moving forward. God’s just getting started. 🙂

  7. I am trying not to sob and wake up my sleeping infant as I mull over these words. I found this post from a thread on the D&B page. Funny that you would mention you have not forgiven yourself. I had coffee with our bible study teacher’s wife on Saturday & told her the same thing. Then had a conversation with my husband telling him that I could not figure out how to forgive myself.

  8. Great posts! Both Holding On and Letting Go. Sometimes I find I even hold on to the “comfort” of depression that I once had, and a small part of me wants to go back. For people that haven’t been there, won’t understand that. But I know I won’t go back. I’m letting it go, every day, bit by bit. And holding on to Jesus.
    Thank you for your transparency.