"There is more to life than loving yourself, you gotta learn to love somebody else." ~Jagged Edge Today, as I listened to a song called "Goodbye" by one of my favorite male R&B groups Jagged Edge, I was reminded of the importance of "letting go." Though the song is inaccurate in a few areas, the overall message is extremely accurate. It explains how important it is to let go, not only for self, but for the benefit of others as well. In many instances, the best thing for us to to do is the hardest thing that we've ever had to do. Letting go definitely falls into this category as a major struggle of mine. For at least 20 of my almost 22 years of life, I battled deeply with abandonment issues. The people that I felt should have been there for me weren't, so when people came around and actually stayed, I never imagined having to let them go. Yeah, sure there were problems in some of these relationships, but at least these people stuck around. Yes, situations arose where I felt inadequate and mistreated in these relationships. I put up with a heck of a lot, but if I wanted people to stick around I had to... right?? Then there were even the times where I would be rude and nasty to people because I "knew" that despite my actions, they were in my life to stay. It wasn't until I encountered truth, that my perception changed--my reality changed. When I was extremely broken with voids that needed to be filled, I would always turn to people to fill those voids--voids that were never theirs to fill in the first place. My biggest "void fillers" were guys... I tried to be in monogamous relationships, but those never worked out for me, so I moved on to a "bigger ball game." Soon, I became promiscuous and a "player" if you will... There were a couple of guys in my rotation that were very interested in me for more than just my body... don't get me wrong, they absolutely wanted me physically, but they wanted more than that, too. Then, there were those guys that wanted only what was between my legs; yet, somehow, I made myself believe that it was better to have something, than to have nothing. I held on to all of the guys I KNEW weren't right for me, simply because I was afraid to let go of them and be alone. I didn't want to deal with the abandonment issue; it was too heavy of a burden for me to carry, so I kept people around in order that I might never have to deal with... well, ME! Then, I made friends with people who were really nothing like me, and allowed myself to be sucked into a world that wasn't meant for me. I had "friends" who encouraged me to do things that real friends would never dare to. Some of these friends were mean to me, they dogged me out behind my back and gave clues to my face suggesting how they really felt about me, but I was naive in some cases, and in other cases I made myself believe that it was no big deal-- at least I had "friends," right???? I found myself in situations where I stayed in certain places because I had become comfortable. I'd found that it was easier for me to stay than to leave and trust that God would lead me to where I really needed to be. Despite the fact that I was hurting BAD by choosing to remain in situations that I knew I didn't belong in, wasn't enough to move me, because I believed that even the pain I faced in these situations, couldn't compare to the pain I would face in removing myself from these situations. Finally, but most importantly, I had to say "goodbye" to the negative thoughts and characteristics of the old me, that I'd carried around for so long. These thoughts and feelings are what caused me to make bad decisions: I thought I wouldn't be able to deal with myself, In some ways I thought I was worthless and useless; I was ashamed and carried so much anger and bitterness. There was no way that I could deal with myself alone. I needed help! In most of these situations, the biggest reason I stuck around was because I was afraid of the unknown. I was afraid to test the waters. I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid of failure. I was all around afraid and selfish. I never stopped to realize that there is more good in goodbye than just those first four letters, when you're leaving for the right reasons. It wasn't until I encountered truth, that my world was turned right-side up. My desires changed and I began to think differently in every situation. My eyes were opened and I was able to see that I was using people and situations as a crutch, because I was afraid to stand on my own two feet. I was also able to see that I'd become a crutch for others. Love showed me that in order to grow, to have joy, to experience life, and to help others do the same, it was vital that I had enough faith in the unseen, to not only say goodbye, but to mean it. The more I experienced REAL love, the less afraid I was to be on my own, simply because I knew I wasn't alone... and every time a sense of loneliness crept up, God would remind me of His promise to never leave me nor forsake me--to be with me every step of the way (Joshua 1:9). The best gift in goodbye for me is freedom. Too often we are confined to relationships and situations, we're emotionally controlled by the behaviors and thoughts of others and we don't have the chance to really be all that we can be, because we're busy being all that we're expected to be for and to others. Goodbye means that you understand there is more to life, and that even though you love someone/something, you don't have to stick around out of convenience. Don't be confused, goodbye is not always a permanent state, sometimes it's just necessary to experience hello with the One who matters most... God! Once you've found yourself wrapped up and consumed in Love and once you discover who you really are, He'll allow certain relationships to be mended, simply because He knows that you will no longer lose yourself in anyone/anything else, because you've found yourself in Him! Understand this: you owe one thing to everyone... LOVE!!! Love does not mean you have to stay in situations that break you down, that cause you to hate life, that cause you to become bitter, and that cause you to doubt God. If you feel like you have to stick around for people to love you, then you don't know what love is, and/or what they have to offer you is not love at all. Don't let people be the determining factor of your happiness, because that means that if they leave you, you'll no longer be happy. Find joy in a Father who loves unconditionally and without restraint. He is our joy and peace... and for every loss, comes a great gain. BE FREE!