Once upon a time when my parents were dating, my mom accused my dad of caring more about money than he did about her. So he took his money and ripped it up, saying "You think I care about money? Here's how much I care about money!" Now, the idea of ripping money up kind of makes me want to cry, but you have to give the guy props for being willing to do that to show her that he did not, in fact, value his money more than he valued her.
As for me, I like to keep memories in a box. I like to save special emails in a folder. I like to keep photos organized neatly in a photo album, chronologically from the beginning of the semester to the end. In short, I'm sentimental. So for me to get rid of my sentimental stuff is a big deal. It wasn't until a few months a go when I decided to clean out a folder of emails that I had saved that I understood what it means to let go of stuff. My original intention was to organize the folder by cleaning out some of the emails that didn't really say anything, which was about half of them. But there I stood with at least 30 emails remaining, so I started to get rid of ones that meant only a little, and after a few times reading through, I was down to 6. Honestly, I couldn't delete those last 6 that day. Some of them said meaningful things, and others were meaningful because I remembered how I didn't win that argument, but this email proved that I clearly should have won. I knew I would delete those last 6 emails eventually, but I couldn't do it yet.
I didn't put pressure on myself to delete those remaining emails. I had deleted a lot, and it felt really good. In fact, I couldn't believe how good it felt. I no longer had any record of those conversations ever taking place, and that was okay. I was okay. I half expected one of my limbs to fall off, I think. Every time I deleted one of the emails, I held my breath and examined my extremities, just waiting for one of them to disappear because I had just deleted what I thought was a piece of me. And when I found myself fully intact, I realized how good it felt to know that I was still whole. A few days later, I was able to delete the last few emails. And yes, I still have ten fingers, ten toes, and all the necessary body parts holding those extremities in place!
The whole ordeal was a bit like my dad ripping up money. In the end, it wasn't about me cleaning up my gmail folders. Rather, it was a statement about letting go of my past relationship; it was me saying that I no longer attach meaning to those things, and it no longer matters. I no longer had one foot stuck in the past. It's saying, YOU matter more than the memories of what used to be. (And speaking of losing a limb, doesn't keeping one foot in the past sound like the real way to do that?)
Knowing that God is jealous for me, I wonder if that's a bit like how He feels when I tithe my money, give away my possessions, or sacrifice for someone else's sake. Letting go of the things that we used to put value in might be how we're demonstrating to God that He matters more. When we choose not to place value in money, beauty, etc, it's like we are making the same declaration that Paul made--that he counts everything as loss compared to knowing Jesus. Choosing selfishness or love of money over my love for God is a bit like saying, "I love you, TJ... but I'm going to keep all my old emails and reminisce about my past relationships from time to time. I hope that's okay with you." Yeah, that would definitely not be okay with him.
Obviously counting everything as loss compared to knowing Jesus matters a lot more than letting go of my old emails. But why is it that sometimes we can so easily justify our love for money when we can clearly see that putting value in my old emails isn't okay? Letting go of all the things I could value more than my relationship with God has the same freeing result as deleting emails or ripping up money... I realize that I'm okay. In fact, I'm more than okay, I'm good. And I mean good with a capital G. Good.
I still have my box of memories (though I have gotten rid of some of the things in it). And there isn't anything wrong with keeping the box, but I need to give it the proper value it merits, which means, in short, trusting that all of my limbs will stay attached to my body, even without that stuff.
"A thousand half-loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home" -Rumi