Ok… I’m going to admit it.
I watched the Disney movie Tangled…
I liked it.
Mainly I liked the movie because of the lantern festival scene that takes place near the end of the movie.
I got a little teary-eyed when the first lantern reflected in the water and then all of a sudden the sky is filled with all those lanterns. I know it was just computer-generated graphics, but for some reason I was amazed by it.
We went to the Lantern Fest outside of St. Louis last fall, partly because I wanted to relive my Disney moment, but mainly because we had stuff we needed to let go of.
There are many legends dating back thousands of years on the symbolism of releasing lanterns into the sky. One of those legends involves letting go of your past and moving to your future. At the lantern festival we attended, you were encouraged to send your highest hopes or your deepest regrets up into the air.
One of the things they encourage you to do is to decorate your lantern before sending in the air.
In the last couple posts, we have talked about “doing the work.” From marriage life to spiritual life, it all takes work. In addition to purging our house, like Anna-Marie talked about last week, we needed to do some work of letting go in other parts of our lives as well.
One thing we did before the festival was get pen and paper out and write down all the things we wanted to let go of in our lives. We took time to come up with stuff for our list and then we shared with each other the list.
We all have regrets in life.
Those hurts and hards that we carry around with us. They hold us back, drag us down, and remain open wounds if we don’t deal with them… If you don’t think you have any, then you probably are just in denial or you’re getting ready to have a bunch of regrets yourself.
Regrets are painful.
Reading each other’s regrets was really painful.
But regrets are meant to be let go.
So that is what we did.
At the lantern festival, we threw our list of regrets into the fire pit.
Together, we watched them burn.
After our regrets burned in the fire pit, we released our new hopes into the air.
It wasn’t the list, the lantern, or the fire that allowed us to let go. It was all the work we did those weeks beforehand… facing the hurts and hards… having the tough conversations…
The lists, the lanterns, the fire were just symbols. They were used as a way to mark the occasion.
Letting go is hard…
When you let go, you have to first face things head on…
You have to look at them, examine them, talk about them…
Sometimes part of letting go is just naming the thing you are letting go of. Giving it a name, identifying it, and then releasing it. Because only when we identify the thing do we know what to let go.
And facing things is hard.
Sometimes we try to cover things up with activities, words, actions, or busyness. We like to hide behind things or throw ourselves into things because it’s so much easier to get lost in busyness than to really examine the hurt and the hard, have the excruciating conversations… the many excruciating conversations to pull out the hard, name it, deal with it, and let the heart absorb it, expand and move past… to let it go…
We knew that there would be no way for us to let things go unless we first dealt with, named, then talked through all of the regrets ahead of time.
We couldn’t let go until we knew what we were letting go of.
But so Good.
The Lantern Fest was a physical marker that represented the many conversations and hard we walked through to get to that point.
Facing our regrets is painful.
But if we skip that step, we miss out on the true power and freedom of letting go… of understanding forgiveness.
The Lantern Fest was one of the most powerful events in my and Anna-Marie’s life and in our marriage.
It was powerful because we walked through a lot of hurt and we let go of the things we needed to let go of.
We were doing the work.