I lost a dear friend last week. She’d gotten weaker and weaker after undergoing one planned then one emergency open-heart surgery in a matter of days. Her friends are stunned. Her family is in shock. This was not the way it was supposed to go. She was intrepid. She was stubborn. She was the one who seemed like she could go on forever. At 80, she could still rise from a full squat to her feet without touching anything, for god’s sake.
And yet, there came a time when all that she was wasn’t enough. A time to admit she was too tired to keep fighting to get her life back.
Assessing “what went wrong” is useless. But this big decision has me looking at all the little decisions we make, where we decide that whatever we have been fighting for is not going to happen. And that made me ask “Is there a difference between letting go and giving up?”
It seems there is. Letting go is about surrendering control. Giving up is about surrendering everything. And there is a time for each.
Letting go clears the way for what’s next. By no longer focusing on the job you had to have or trying to force real love into a romance that doesn’t come close, you clear the space you need for something much better to come into your life. Accepting that the real answer is beyond something you can make happen opens up possibilities you can’t even imagine. You’re betting on a future that’s better than you can create on your own. If you’re authentic with it, what comes next will serve you far better than whatever it is you let go of.
Giving up stops at now. Giving up says “No more. I am done with this.”
Eventually we will all get to “giving up.” But let’s not do it prematurely–when we’re going to go on living despite what we are relinquishing. When things seem hopeless, it’s the time to surrender, yes. To wait in the deep velvet fog of uncertainty for “what’s coming next.” To trust that it will be what you need. To open yourself to going beyond your own fences so you can recognize it when it arrives. It is the time to let go.
But don’t give up when letting go is an option. Don’t give up on ever having a happy life just because today was close to unbearable. Accept that what you need may simply be beyond your own thinking–not absent entirely. Let go and wait for what comes next.
Surrender is part of living life to the max. It resonates with hope and potential. Giving up is the very last resort. Save that for the authentic end.
Thanks for the lesson, Linda.