Emotional Attachment and Letting Go



13501895_1362176963799055_2136856542094174759_n (1)I rolled my hands in a feather light touch over the baby clothes in front of me. Oh, how little they were! I could not believe my boys used to be this tiny. My firstborn is now eight and his younger brother, seven.

These baby clothes were barely worn. I kept them in the closet, in one of the organizers I improvised, after two to three times of use. And they were kept like a valuable treasure until recently.

I had given away the majority of my boys' things, but these were the few I kept for some reason. During the seder passover at church, however, my family and I happened to sit next to a couple who were expecting for the first time. The soon-mom-to-be is giving birth next month, and right there, as I shake her hand, a nudge from within reminded me about the baby clothes I kept somewhere in our closet at home.

I had a sense of attachment to these bunch of clothes. They were used for my boys' first: first picture, first walk, first solid food, first talk, name it. And however minimalist I am, I would find them a space in our little abode. I was not just ready to let them go. Not yet, until recently.

Washing, folding and getting these baby clothes ready for a good reason made me realize that often, difficulties and challenges lie not on growth and transition, but thrive in the sea of emotional attachment and inability to let go.

Emotional attachment and a hampered capacity to let go can be paralyzing, spiritually and professionally. As humans, it is natural for us to cling to what is familiar, however unfit that familiar to what we are becoming. And for as long as we cling to what should be let go, we will never realize what we can become.

According to literary genius Virginia Woolf, we find the past beautiful because we do not have complete emotions about the present, only about the past. To my Minor Prophets class professor, it is called the tyranny of nostalgia - our fond memory of the past incapacitating us to appreciate the treasure in the present. And this also, for me, sheds light on the thought process of the Israelites who were grumbling, savoring their great life in Egypt, on their way to the Promised Land. What great Egypt life were they talking about? They were slaves there, for heaven's sake. And anyone who has read a historical account on slavery or any other slavery literature knew there was little to nothing to celebrate about that status and practice. However, in their inability to let go of the familiar and their emotional attachment to everything Egypt, the Israelites failed to embrace and savor their journey to the Promised Land. Worst, they forfeited the chance to enter to the restored homeland promised by God to Abraham and his descendants.

In the last two years, there is a clear call for me into a new season. And however the call becomes clearer to me as month goes by, I tarried, rationalizing my choices. And all these boil down to emotional attachment and its twin sister, letting go.

Growth necessitates letting go - freeing a space for the new. It is just impossible to be a newborn and an eight year old at the same time. It is just impossible to be a novice and expert at once. They are different phases of life that should be embraced at a given period, but should be admired at a distance at some point in our journey. If only for growth. If only for what we can become. If only to obey Christ.

I put all the baby clothes and needs in a huge paper bag. This giving away is ceremonial to me. This means embracing where I am at the moment. And for once, with all cheer my heart could muster, letting go what should be let go.


"Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” -Rev. 21:5 NKJV



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