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Letting Go

Pam Vredevelt, author by Pam Vredevelt
LPC with NW Counseling Services, Gresham, Oregon

Have you ever been told this is what you need to do for your own good and the good of your family, but you just can't do it?

After our first baby died there were times when I said to myself, “Pam, you've got to let go and move on with life.” It was easier said than done. Letting go is hard work. It's often very confusing and bewildering. To break away from something we have been bonded to tears apart our emotions. It goes against our natural instincts to break bonds. The parting cannot be done without inward bleeding. The greater the bond, the greater the pain.

Our mind and our emotions feel like they are at war with one another. Our head says, “This is what you need to do for your own good. This is what you need to do for the sake of your family.” But our heart says, “NO! It hurts too much. I can't do it.”

Usually when awareness of our loss increases, so does our pain. I heard about a poster that showed a cartoon of a woman with her head and arms squeezing through the wringer of an old washing machine. Her face was full of anguish. The caption read, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” It's very painful to face the full impact of our losses.

Psychiatric research shows that the way to let go of our pain is to feel it. Some of my favorite sayings are “Feeling is healing,” “Birds fly, fish swim, people feel.” Stuffing our feelings or numbing them with addictive behavior prolongs and intensifies our grief and blocks us from successfully letting go. I remember saying to one of my colleagues after we lost our baby, “I wish I could take a pill that would make all my pain go away.” His response was, “I can understand that, but you would just have to deal with your grief later.” His point was that when I was feeling, I was making progress.

Letting go demands we let ourselves feel our pain and ride out the grief. If we choose to deny and stuff our pain, we will end up getting stuck and never fully heal.

During the painful times of life, when I am having to let go of something dear to me, I've found that God is the safest One to run to. He knows me better than I know myself. In my weakness I cry out: “God, I can't stop the hurt. I need your supernatural help. Give me your perspective. Let my eyes see as You see. Let my ears hear your voice. Show me how I can cooperate with You in healing my heart.” Prayers of ventilation help release pain.

God has the power to change us from the inside out. To heal the pain that seems to have no limits. But He will always be a gentleman. He will never force us to let go of something to which we are clinging. He will compassionately wait for us to release our grip, to open our hands, and to invite Him to participate in our lives. Once our invitation is extended, we have an eternal guarantee that He will be with us no matter what life brings our way. And He promises to help us let go of our pain a little at a time. The precious memories of our baby will always be with us. Indeed they are a gift. But over time the heartache connected to those memories has diminished, and life has become more manageable.

One day we will be able to look back and see how God's hand has been on our lives. Hindsight will reveal the new levels of courage and growth that have come to us and we will smile over the changes we have made. Things will make more sense. But not until history has run its course will we fully understand how “all things work together for good.” (Romans 8:28) So, for now we must choose a life of faith, which means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.

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Pam Vredevelt, M.S., L.P.C. is a licensed professional counselor and director of NW Counseling Services in Gresham, Oregon. Specializing in eating disorders, codependency, and sexual abuse issues, she is the author of seven books and several magazine articles. Family Ministries Lending Library has these books available for check out: Angel Behind the Rocking Chair, Espresso for Your Spirit: Hope and Humor for Pooped Out Parents, Espresso For a Woman's Spirit, The Thin Disguise, Letting Go of Disappointments and Painful Losses, Letting Go of Worry and Anxiety (Click to read an excerpt), and Walking a Thin Line: Winning the Battle of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia. Call 503-654-6054 to find out more about checking out these materials, or, click on the purple links to purchase from

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You can purchase these books by clicking on the book images which will take you to A portion of the proceeds will go to Hope for the Family ministries.





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