Let go or be dragged behind. Imagine taking two fire hoses, shoving them up your nose and having someone turn the water on full blast. That’s pretty much what happened to me one time water skiing. The driver of the boat was playing a game with me called “fool em and drop em”. The gist of the whole thing is to erratically drive the boat to get the skier to either drop the line, or wipe out in epic fashion. Only when your ego takes over will you be the skier to wipe out, because the driver will always win.
When you wipe out though, the biggest key is to leg go of the rope. In my particular case, the wipe out was SO epic that I temporarily lost sight of this seemingly instinctual and simple rule. I had been winning the game, you see, and the driver of the boat was getting a little perturbed that I was matching his moves. So, he got a little crazier, and then it happened. He purposefully cut the slack in the rope, and then gunned the boat into a much larger boats wake. I went FLYING much like the person in the red trunks in the pic above. Only I probably went about 20 feet or more in the air.
My immediate concern when realizing I was that high up, was what my impact with the water would be. Height combined with my inertia going forward had me thinking I was going to skip like a big flat rock when you toss it along the water. This was going to hurt, and hurt bad!
It was WAY worse than that. The skis flew who knows where, and with my mind preoccupied with landing and my near eminent death on the horizon, I forgot to let go of the rope. I positioned myself (while airborne) to land feet first. I thought that might prevent the skipping. But since I had not let go, the boat pulled my body out of the feet first landing, and stretched me out flat, with my face and belly towards the water.
WHAM! My body hit the water flat, and hard, and yes, I DID skip like a rock. After skipping a few times, my face now decided it was it’s turn to plant itself in the water. STILL holding on to the rope, I now got dragged behind the boat. Lake water was now power douching my nostrils with the force of an F-15 fighter jet. When everything finally stopped, I was no longer holding on to the rope. I don’t remember if I actually purposefully let go of it, or if it got pulled from my tight grasp all on it’s own. I was hurting, uncomfortable, dizzy, coughing up water, and REALLY grateful for the life vest I had on. I was angry, and felt humiliated.
Let go, or be dragged behind is a pretty simple yet unrelenting concept. It does not tell you that you MUST let go, it just simply tells you of the consequences of not doing so. It also does not give you a timing of letting go, just that there is an inevitable issue with holding on. In my case with the water skiing, I had many opportunities to let go before my consequences hit me like a rock. I simply did not do it, and I can’t really tell you why.
Of course my story apples to a physical situation, but this can be applied to mental, emotional, spiritual, and psychological situations as well. Is there a relationship that has run it’s course and is really not serving you, and your well being anymore? This can be romantic, friends, business, or even family relationship. At some point it may become clear to you that you need to let go (as I should have when I saw the driver of the boat start driving like a crazy person). But many other times, our ego, or other insecurities press us to hold on. It seems to us a danger or a risk to let go. Maybe it feels just so much more secure to keep holding on. Fear of what will happen if we DO let go often keeps our fragile emotions clutching to the relationship, or person.
“Better the devil you know…” This one has often hit me hard in letting go. It all comes from a past experience, a risk that I took that hurt me bad. I left one company that had treated me very well for a competitor that promised me the world. They lied. Then they fired me. It hurt bad – REALLY bad. In the long run, it was all the best thing that could have happened to me. But I remember that pain, and what it took to climb back up from the bottom again. When I feel like letting go seems to be a risk, this always comes back to sit on my front stoop and thumb its nose at me as a reminder. My brain thinks, “SEE? Remember THIS time? Stick to where you are safe. You will avoid this pain.”
Let go or be dragged DOES require your attention however. There are times when holding on is exactly the thing you need to do. Back when I was a youth minister during a HORRENDOUS time in the church I was working for, where there was terrible back stabbing, and secret meetings, and hurtful political maneuvering going on, everything told me to run away. But I knew it was a very confusing time for the kids I was charged with. I had to balance my own personal pain with that of the kids. For me personally, it was definitely time to let go. But in this particular case, there were greater needs than my own. So, I learned to bob and weave, and maintain a safe distance for long enough to get the needs of those kids met. Once I felt that they were ready enough, I let go.
I am sure you can come up with your own scenarios of when you should have let go and did not. Perhaps you have something in your life now that is dragging you behind and you have not let go when you should. The best thing to do is sit with that thought, and MAKE THE TIME to figure out how and when you are going to let go – and then DO IT! MAKE the time with your tribe (the really close and honest friends) and openly talk with them about it. Maybe it is something that you have held onto for years. Maybe you know there will be pain. Face those things with some real self care. Let go or be dragged behind – it really is more painful in the long run to be dragged. Let go of the fear, then let go of the situation.