You hold onto a lot—dreams, hurts, relationships, fears. Not all of the things you clench so tightly are bad, but you’ll quickly learn that to fight for that much control will only pull you farther away from God and farther away from the person you want to become.
You hold your dreams closely because you’re always looking to the future, waiting for the next best thing. You’ll learn, before long, that life doesn’t necessarily get better or easier with time, at least not in the typical sense. By holding onto your planned future, you’re setting yourself up for anxiety and disappointment when life doesn’t go “your way.” If you learn to let go of some of those dreams, you can be open to the opportunities God has waiting for you—things you would never have planned yourself. In Luke 12, Jesus says, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” You’ll find this out as life takes unexpected turns through college, grad school, and your career. Nothing goes quite as you planned, but you’ll learn that God’s plan is always better than your own.
You hold onto hurts, but that paves the way for distrust and bitterness. You can’t control how other people act towards you, but you can control your response. Choose to love them, even when they hurt you. Choose to move on and not let those hurts define your future friendships and relationships. Choose to forgive, even if you never say those words out loud to them; better yet, forgive them out loud. That’s something that will take a long time for you to learn—sometimes it’s easier to forget than to forgive. Let go of the hurts and let God move in your heart in a way that changes your outlook on challenging relationships with people, showing them love instead of avoiding them or lashing out.
Learn that it’s ok to let go of some relationships. At some point, you’ll decide that some friendships don’t last forever, and that’s ok. Instead of feeling guilty, remember the moments that made those friendships valuable and look for those qualities in future friendships. Not all of your friendships will last; make sure to value the ones that do. Those friends will walk alongside you in some of the most difficult and amazing times in your life. Support them as much as they support you.
And finally, learn to let go of your fears. The fear of failure, of a lack of safety, of something going wrong, of abandonment, of imperfection. God’s design for your life is not for you to limit yourself with fear—by doing that, you also limit God. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Take risks! I’m talking about the types of risks that can change your future and your life for the better—moving to a new city, or even staying in a city you planned to leave. Put yourself out there. Do things that scare you, and stop being afraid to fail. You’ll stand at the top of a mountain, kayak with dolphins, live in another country on your own, and so much more. But first, you have to let go of your fear and put all your trust in God’s hands.
I’ll be honest, life change comes slowly for you. It takes a long time to learn these lessons, and even when I think I’ve finally got it, I go back to my old ways. But learning to let go and release control to God will open new doors and change your perspective. It will lead you into a future you never would have dreamed for yourself. And it will take a lot of pressure off of you to get everything right. God’s doesn’t look for perfection, just surrender. Remind yourself daily: “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10).