On clinging, releasing and relinquishing by Joy Lenton

Trying, puffing and panting a bit, he rocks back, grinning with pride, eyes wide at the achievement. He examines the wonder of a pair of rubber boots on his feet, each somehow on the correct foot, all shiny and new. Look at me, his eyes smile. I did it!

We smile indulgently as toddlers discover how to achieve new skills. Putting on (and taking off) their own clothes and footwear by themselves is a sign of burgeoning independence.

Life is all about trying new things, especially for toddlers. They have many obstacles before them on the path to becoming able and capable of helping themselves.

As adults, we can cling too tenaciously to the safe and familiar, afraid of the very real risk of failure. Or hold too tightly to what we know instead of opening ourselves up to things beyond our comprehension.

Much of life consists of aspects of trying, holding and releasing. The key thing is having wisdom and insight to see what to hold onto and what to relinquish. Thankfully, God gives them to us freely when we ask Him.

My grandson's latest pet phrase is, "You do it; I can't do it!" His weary parents may sigh at times because of his perceived need of help, while steeling themselves for the next likely stage whereby he will insist on doing everything himself whether competent or not.

What I love about the way he seeks help is his utter confidence in his parents' ability to meet his requests. There's no hesitation as he approaches them, only an expectation of being received with wisdom, guidance, kindness, love - and hopefully, patience!

How does this relate to our grown-up world? I see a tendency in me to cling tightly to safe and familiar, to hold hard onto God as my soul's anchor and refuge, and to struggle sometimes to know when to release and let go of things. Maybe you do too?

Reassuringly, we can have every confidence in approaching our heavenly Father and being met with His unconditional love.

And His infinite patience and calm.


I'm toddler-tyrant,
clinging tightly to the things
I believe I have a right

to keep; little knowing
that the harder I hold
onto my joys and sorrows

as I sift sands of today,
the more difficult
it will be to prise

my hands free, away
from creating castles
in the air of tomorrow

As Christian believers, faith writers and creatives, generosity is meant to be our hallmark as we learn what and when to share.

Timidity or fear can make us toddler-tyrant, unwilling to lose perceived control, making us cling harder to our own ways instead of surrendering swiftly to God's.

God wants us to be open to trying new ways of living more fully and freely by His grace. He desires heart obedience and willingness to release and relinquish what doesn't fit who we are now in Christ.

When we hold onto Him, cling to His word and the promise and potential it brings, we gradually learn how dependence on God is the most restful and freeing way to live.

And as we seek wisdom in sharing our words and deeds, confidence will grow as we live into our calling as writers and disciples of Jesus.

Joy Lenton is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer, poet and blogger, author of 'Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life's hard places'

She enjoys encouraging others on their journey of life and faith at her blogs wordsofjoy.me and poetryjoy.com as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal. You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. So often we let fear get in the way of our relationship with God and his plans for our writing. Thanks for encouraging us to relinquish those fears and to entrust ourselves to our heavenly Father, who offers perfect freedom and security.

    1. It isn't easy to do, is it, Fiona? Fear seems to have such a grip on us sometimes. But it's certainly worth entrusting ourselves to God, maybe feeling the fear and doing it anyway! He's the only One who can offer us "perfect freedom and security."

  2. Thank you for this Joy. I think I have a tendency to hold on to things that are familiar when sometimes God calls us to step out in faith in a new direction. Like Abraham. Bless you for sharing.

    1. I'm glad you can relate to this, Lynda. A new direction can be welcome at times. Much depends on whether we eagerly anticipate the change or if circumstances initiate it for us. Abraham is certainly a great example of stepping out in faith. Would that we could all be as obedient as he was!

  3. A wonderful inspiring post Joy! I know sometimes God uses challenging situations in my life to encourage me to let go. Why do we find it so hard to relinquish control even to One we trust? I guess it's a daily decision :) Thanks for your wise words.

  4. A wonderful inspiring post Joy! I know sometimes God uses challenging situations in my life to encourage me to let go. Why do we find it so hard to relinquish control even to One we trust? I guess it's a daily decision :) Thanks for your wise words.

    1. Deborah, you hit the nail on the head here. Yes, yielding and surrendering to God's ways is a daily decision we take. Our faith gets stretched in the letting go. The longer we journey with the Lord the more we can look back and see how He has led and guided us. And that gives us hope, trust and reassurance for today and future days. Thank you for reading and being inspired by these words!

  5. Then life of a toddler can teach us so much. They exude a sense of freedom that when we get older we lose. Or they seek the help of others when they need it. In my mind, it seems they do not carry fear with them like we tend to do. The lesson of letting go when I need help is one that can be hard even though I know God is willing to share the burden with us. I will be learning this lesson for the rest of my life but am blessed that I know God and His deep love and grace. Praying your weekend is blessed.

    1. I love the way toddlers "exude a sense of freedom" and feel sad about how swiftly we can lose it as adults. And your words here help to explain why it happens. Fear is a real stumbling block for so many of us because our brains try to work out all the what ifs of a situation before going forward. It helps protect us from overly hasty decision making but can also stifle spontaneity and creativity. Letting go of perceived control can be hard to do and it's likely to be a lifelong lesson for all of us. Thanks for following me over here, Mary! Have a blessed, restful weekend.

  6. This is very apposite a day after the final service at my beloved Mennonite church. It's hard to let go of so much history, but as I read from Ecclesiastes in the service yesterday, there is a time for everything: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up. And God has blessings and tasks for us elsewhere.

  7. Veronica, I'm sorry to hear of the end of an era for you at your beloved church. The way you've described how God is already affirming His loving care for every season is heartening in the midst of your sadness. You will always carry the memories and connections made there in your heart and mind. And God will use them to build a new foundation for the future. Thank you for sharing your experiences and reminding us that God always has tasks and blessings ready for us to receive in His due time.

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  9. Amen to that, Joy. My word for this year is 'alive' and I found myself stopped and staring at your words, ' God wants us to be open to trying new ways of living more fully and freely by His grace.' I want to live fully and freely.
    Thank you, my friend.

    1. Helen, I wonder if God desires us to seek our aliveness mainly in Him as a spiritual thing? As we listen, rest, abide, yield and obey His voice we slowly become more confident about moving forward and leaving what needs laying aside behind us. May you continue to explore new ways of living and writing more fully and freely, letting go of old patterns of insecurity and embracing all you can be by His grace. I'm convinced He has some glorious things waiting for you, my friend! Blessings. :)


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