I’m sitting in a booth at a coffee shop with two friends, something that feels like a luxury since it hasn’t happened in so many months. We’re talking about what the future holds, where we’ll go from here, and what we want to leave behind.
One friend pulls out a small cardboard box, and inside are blank notecards. “I’ve found new clarity about my purpose,” she tells us, “And I’m going to let certain things go.” She asks us to bear witness as she writes these distractions down, then tells us she’s going to bury them in the ground. “I’m laying them to rest,” she says.
What struck me was that nothing she wrote down was a bad thing, just a few professional hopes, goals, and dreams. They simply weren’t the best things for her. They’d become energy drainers, weighing her down and leading her away from what she knew to be the direction God was asking her to go.
We’re in a unique place in our story as humanity. We’ve been through a great tragedy, a season of difficulty, and such times often bring with them a renewed sense of clarity about what matters most to us.
We realize the laughter of our children is more beautiful than the notifications on our phones.
We fall in love again with the taste of strawberries, the tickle of grass on our feet, or the person sharing our home that busyness had almost made a stranger.
We feel in our bones and our souls the ways we are out of alignment with God’s design for us in our work or our worship.
We take nothing for granted because we know now it could all be gone in a moment, ice cream in the heat of life’s sun.
We set down some of our baggage — commitments, obligations, meetings on our calendars — and we find ourselves wondering if we really have to pick them all back up again.
Jesus said, “Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:29-30 NLT). Before rushing back into everything, we’re allowed to pause and ask, “What feels heavy in my life that I might not have to carry anymore?” I understand many things in life aren’t optional. We all have our have-to’s that can’t be delegated or ignored.
I’m talking about what weighs us down that God never asked us to pick up. Maybe it’s a lie we’ve believed, like that our worth is found only in our work. Maybe it’s a yes we said years ago out of guilt that we simply keep saying because we’re afraid to stop. Maybe it’s a dream that had its season and now it’s time to move on.
In my life, what I’m leaving behind is the determination to control everything. I’ve realized in the past year that control is an illusion, a house of mirrors at a carnival. The reality is we are more fragile than we know, life is more unpredictable than we realize, and none of us have our hands on the steering wheel of the universe.
Yes, that understanding has been a source of fear for me at times, but, to my great surprise, it has also brought relief. I’m embracing this truth instead: God is in control, and I am in charge. This means while I can’t rule the world, I can choose how I live each day. There’s comfort in trusting His care, in embracing my smallness.
If you had a cardboard box like my friend, what would you put in it? What’s one thing you’d like to bury and leave behind forever?
May we never face another time like the one we’ve just endured as humanity. But may we also not waste the unexpected opportunity it has given us — to reset our souls, rethink our lives, and perhaps travel a little lighter than we did before.