saying goodbye to the nonessentials

song: hibernation by random forest

reading time: 7 minutes

a couple things have changed since i’ve moved to the literal middle of the world —quito, ecuador — community has become one of the biggest components of my life. i will be honest, i wrote down a few goals that i wanted to accomplish during my time here — i wanted to get started on one of my book ideas, i wanted to start and finish my e-course, and a few other things. however, i’m realizing, that to accomplish all those things in a short three months means that i’ll miss out on my real goals — one of which is to establish true community where i am and to dive into the relationships around me.

all that to say, lately, my evenings haven’t been filled with netflix and work — but, instead, they have been filled with wine and good conversation.

last night, my redheaded twin of a roommate and i decided to host a worship night at our house. not because we are super holy, but because we believe that sometimes it’s important to have a little Jesus time with community.

the night was simple, but extravagantly beautiful all the same. there was nothing fancy about it —  just few voices singing along with a guitar.

one of the songs that we sang stuck out to me — “nothing i hold onto”.

it goes like this:

“i will climb this mountain with my hands wide open

nothing i hold onto

i lean not on my own understanding

my life is in the hands of the maker of heaven

i give it all to you, God

trusting that you’ll make something beautiful out of me

okay, here’s the point where everything changes and you stop getting a recap and you start getting something else… whatever you wanna call it.

i don’t know if you’ve ever been hiking — but i’ve hiked a good amount in my days, especially when i was preparing to hike mt. whitney [the tallest mountain in the continental US]. when hiking whitney, i wanted my backpack to be light with only the things that were essential to my journey and survival. i wanted my hands to free and not lugged down with a water bottle, jacket, snacks, or whatever other random object you can think of. if it didn’t fit in my pack, if it wasn’t essential for survival— it wasn’t coming with me up the mountain. my hands needed to be free in case i needed to climb up rocks or move branches out of my way along the path. if i had chosen to carry things that didn’t fit in my pack, i would have been slowed down and i would have had a difficult time getting up the mountain. i mean, really, can you imagine it — a redhead with a massive backpack strapped to her body but then an armful of random unnecessary crap? it’d be a sight to see and probably make good reality t.v. but more than anything, if you saw me along the trail, you’d probably feel sorry for me and wonder why the heck i bothered to bring two extra pairs of shoes, a gallon jug of water, or whatever else. right?

if we stop for a minute and really think about it, this is how we do life [sometimes].

let me explain.

doing and living life is like climbing a mountain — we’ve all heard the inspirational quotes about it, but deep down inside — we know it’s true. if you haven’t hiked a day in your life, i’ll explain it for you.

when you are hiking up a mountain, you feel good at the start. then, you get a mile in and realize “okay, this is going to be a little harder than i thought.” you breathe a little harder, but eventually you catch your breath. sometimes, you lose sight of the trail and take a detour or get a little lost. other times, you encounter challenges that slow you down. sometimes, you just have to take a little break because you’re legs are tired. but then, the sunrises — and you feel the sun on your face and magic happens. sometimes, the path is easy, adventurous, and thrilling. other times, you wonder if you’ll ever reached the end or question why you even started. essentially, there are so many mixed emotions while hiking up a mountain. all emotions that we experience while living life, too. there are seasons where we are fully alive and in love with what we are doing, and other seasons where we question “why the heck am i doing this?” there are seasons that make you feel like you are on top of the world like when the sun rises. and other seasons when you’re not sure if you are strong enough to carry on. so yes, life is like going up a mountain.

often times in the proverbial climb up the mountain of life — we carry too much. we carry things that are nonessentials, things that don’t belong on our journey. we carry insecurity, we carry comparison, we carry self-doubt, we carry negative mindsets, we carry the idea of unworthiness, we carry our past, we carry labels, we carry things people have said about us, we carry toxic memories, we carry [fill your blank]. when in all reality, we don’t have room for those things — they aren’t something that can fit in our hypothetical backpack. our backpack can only carry the essentials — God’s love, His truth, and His word. that’s it. that’s all that can fit in our packs as we go throughout life. everything else, it weighs us down. carrying those things can be equivalent to a hiker trying to carrying two extra pairs of shoes, an extra jacket, a gallon of water, and a tent in his hands up a mountain. all things that would prohibit you from climbing over rocks with ease. in the same way, the negative mentalities, thoughts, and ideas will prohibit you from doing life with ease. it’s not to say that without those things, life will be a breeze and a walk through the park. heck! you’re climbing a mountain, remember? it’s going to be difficult at times, but with a light load and just the essentials — it’ll be a much easier climb.

i hope i am making sense here. i hope this is all clicking. if not, i can do better. here it is — real simple.

you cannot afford to carry around your past hurts, comparison, self-doubt, ideas of unworthiness, unforgiveness, bitterness, and fear with you on the journey of life. those things, all of them — will keep you from reaching your dream. and what the world needs, what they really need, is for you to make it to your dream in one piece. the world needs you and your dream to have a beautiful collision, because when you do — it will impact everyone else in the most beautiful way. you see, your dream —it has light, it has beauty, and it has hope that other people need.

right now — think about it. what is your “thing”? the thing that you’ve been carrying around with you on the proverbial climb? the thing that has been keeping you from living the life you want? the thing that has been hindering you from reaching your dream?

write it down. yes, i’m serious. go get paper and write it down.

okay, now that you’re back.

whatever you wrote down — it has no power.

fear. doubt. insecurity. comparison. ecetera, ecetera.

God is greater than our hearts.

let that soak in for a second.

because it means this — God is greater than the word that you wrote down on that paper. God is greater than the feelings that you have of insecurity, of fear, of your past, of words that were spoken over you. God is greater.

because God is greater — everything else is extra. it’s not needed.  because the only thing you truly need is Him. His love, his truth, and his grace.

my aunt once told me a story about her friend who went hiking with her. he had brought an extra pair of shoes on the trail with him for whatever reason. i suppose he thought he needed them. but along the hike, he got tired of carrying them. it was extra weight that was unnecessary. eventually, he ran into someone on the trail who didn’t have any shoes on, so he gave them away. after, his load was lighter which made his hike up the mountain much easier because he wasn’t lugging around an extra pair of hiking boots.

we need to do this. some of us, we need to lighten our loads. okay, most of us aka all of us. we have things we are carrying with us that we need to get rid of.

so here it is — right now. you have a big decision to make — you can keep carrying the load [aka the mentalities, fears, memories, hurts, ect.] that is weighing you down or you can give it all up. it’s up to you. no one can make this decision for you.

the word[s] that you wrote down on the paper…

that’s what we are talking about here.

are you going to keep carrying that word (or those words) with you? or are you going to give them up? and not let them slow you down from reaching your destiny, your calling, your dream?

right now, it may not seem like a big deal to be carrying around a few extra things. but, gosh, can i tell  you— if you carry them for too long, they can make you feel weak and as if you will never get to the top of the mountain [your dream, your vision, your goal]. if you carry them for too long, you might feel so weary that you quit and give up on chasing the things you really want in life.

my request is this — as hard as it is, give up those things, thoughts, memories, mentalities that are slowing you down. the only things you have room to carry with you on this journey of life is God-things: His word, his truth, and his grace. that’s it.

if you are ready to lighten your load, i challenge you — put a comma after those words and write them a goodbye letter.

maybe it looks like this:

[fill in the blank with your word[s]],

goodbye! you no longer get to have a role in my life. you are no longer necessary on my journey to my dream. thanks for your input, but no thanks. i’ve got things to do, places to go, dreams to make happen, and unfortunately for you —  you can’t come.

goodbye forever.

you may have to write this letter multiple times, and that’s okay. the important part is that you are lightening your load and freeing up your hands so you can hold on to the things, ideas, and opportunities that the Lord wants you to hold onto instead.

let’s live life like the songs says,

“i will climb this mountain with my hands wide open

nothing i hold onto

i lean not on my own understanding

my life is in the hands of the maker of heaven

i give it all to you, God

trusting that you’ll make something beautiful out of me”.