Letting Go, Letting God

2 May

“If you love something, let it go.  If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever.  If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be.”

I’m no expert on grief, and it isn’t something that most of us are eager to think about.  But it seems like a topic those engaged in campus ministry would be wise to become well-acquainted with in order to help, not only ourselves, but those with whom we work deal with the inevitability of transitions.  Every year about this time we must face the reality that we must say farewell to some students, some friends, into whom we have poured our hearts and souls for as long as we’ve known them.  Some of us may be dealing with the reality of changing funding sources for our ministries, or perhaps the closure of the ministry itself.  It is human nature to want to hold on to those things and those persons and those organizations and those myths that we love.  But in the quiet moments when we are most honest with ourselves we recognize that the only constant in this temporal life is change itself.

This point was driven home to me, yet again, earlier this year when my mother died.  When you lose your last parent and realize that you are oldest living member of your family tree, it changes your perspective.  I suppose there are lots of different variations when it comes to responding to death, but it seems to me the choice essentially boils down to this: “Do we react to death and separation with fear or faith?”

One of the greatest gifts we can give our students who are leaving our settings-for-ministry is to model for them a healthy way of “letting go” as they begin the transition into the great unknown euphemistically referred to as “real life.”  Like I said, I’m no expert when it comes to this sort of thing.  But it seems like the situation calls for some conversation that recognizes the reality of the imminent transition and possibly even the observance of a ritual act that symbolizes the need for freeing the one departing to engage fully the next stage of life’s journey, celebrates the miracle of friendship that has been brought to fruition and, most importantly, I think, entrusts the future to a loving God, in whom we live and move and have our being.  The grace and freedom with which we handle life’s transitions speaks volumes regarding what or, perhaps, Who we believe constitutes “real life.”

How well are you equipping your students to “let go and let God” during this season of life?

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David Jones is in the 16th year of campus ministry at Kansas State University.  For almost 27 years he has been married to Linda, with whom he has two children: Nathan (22) and Lindsey (20).  When not hanging out with students, he enjoys staying physically active via yoga, running, walking Bear (his dog), swimming and gardening.  He earned his Ph.D. in Church History from Vanderbilt University, a M.Div. from Saint Paul School of Theology and a B.A. in psychology and religion from Augustana College (S.D.).

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