How to Know When It Is Time to Let Go

“Autumn teaches us how beautiful it can be to let things go.”

~ Unknown

Autumn, with its gorgeous reds, oranges, and yellows, all those colors that people will travel far and wide to behold, quietly teaching us every year that this shedding of a simple array of leaves, can be a good thing. What a beautiful way to look at a thing that is dead or dying, and see it as a rebirth to new life! 

A tree goes through a lot of growth in its time on earth. It is slow progress, marked only on the inside by the intricately designed circles in its deep stumpy soul. Of course, there is outward growth which is visible: the tree gets taller as the years go by, more branches appear, each year the bountiful brush of limbs and leaves gather more and more, until it’s full and covering the landscape with its beauty.

It is almost as if some things are meant to begin small, like an acorn, and learn to weather a storm, stand brave through a bare winter, and bloom and let go at just the right times.

Our Creator God made this same delicate and slow process for us to learn how wonderful it can be when we let nature takes its course. We too become like a tree, growing slow, weathering storms, standing brave when we bare our souls, blooming, pruning, and letting go of things that come to us and through us.

This was a deeply implanted idea in my mind as of late, and it worked its way right to my heart. I recently realized just how tightly I was holding onto something I dearly loved, dearly wanted, and I determined to let it go and give it to God to work out fully in the special way He does with everything we learn to give to Him.

Because really, anything we give to God is never gone, it is in the hands of our Creator, who will shape it into what we truly need, and give it to us in His own special way, in His own special time, wrapped up for us personally, becoming the exact thing we needed all along.

Going through the process for me was difficult, but I know that it was necessary. And I am all the better for it. Letting go, once accomplished properly, is very freeing. I figured that if I was in the place where I needed to realize it was time to let go, you too might have something you have been holding onto that you might need to know when it is time to let it go.

So, in true faith to follow fashion, putting aside pride and hustle, believing God for our dreams, pressing on for the prize of the high calling of Christ, let us come together and look at some ways we can discern and know when it is time to “let it go”.


When the thing you want becomes the thing you serve

Now hear me clearly before we go on: the thing we want may require a certain amount of work before, during, and sometimes even after we have received it.

For me as a writer, there is a certain amount of work that has to be done in order to get published. And that work is HARD!  

But when we are working toward a dream that Christ has put in our hearts, our work will work. We will not have to force anything to happen if we do what God calls us to do next. That is one of the best gifts we receive when we do the Father’s will: He will lead us to the next door when it is time, and it will open naturally because He wants us to fulfill His will.

On the other hand, if the work we are doing is not serving us well, and we feel as if we are serving the dream, we will see a different sort of “working for it” attitude take over. We will feel rushed, hurried, and a slave to the work that we believe it takes to make the dream work for us and our life. That, my friend, is when we know it is time to let it go.

Look at how you work for it. Ask yourself some questions:

  • Do you make it the most important work you are doing?
  • Does your schedule get rearranged often to meet the needs of the dream while leaving the rest of your life scattering to find its place in your life?
  • Are you overlooking important tasks attributed to your current life in order to make the dream work?
  • Does the work you are having to do for this thing take up the time that you would normally be spending with your family? God? Church? Your current mission?
  • Do you serve this thing to the point that you are exhausted already and you have not even received the full blessing yet?

If you are serving this thing and God has not even made it fully available to you yet, it is time to reevaluate your current heart status. It may well be coming up on the time to let it go and let God handle it for a while.

I knew the thing I wanted had to be let go when my already overwhelmed schedule became too much for me to balance and still be kind to my people. My people do not take a backseat to my dreams. Nor should your people feel the need to do so.

If you are serving the dream and you are missing your people, or your relationship with the Lord and His Word, He will not honor that sort of lifestyle. It is far better to let it go and let God than it is to serve it instead of God and force Him to remove it from you to teach you a lesson in what/who you worship.

When the thing you want costs you more than you can pay

Our dreams will not come free. We know this. But do we ever take into account what the limit is for us to financially draw the line? Relationally? Reputationally?

When a dream costs money, some of us are mostly willing to pay whatever it takes to make the dream come true. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to bankrupting our families, and that is a price they should never have to pay. The difference being what they are willing to sacrifice for your dream versus what you actually expect them to pay for your dream.

I know all about those hidden costs and payments that no one but you knows about. Because I have a loving and trusting husband, I have much wiggle room capabilities in our budget planning, and even still, I get suckered into spending above my limits on some weeks. Of course, I feel terrible about it and I try to do better next time. But, there came a time recently when I had to let it go because it was costing my family more than we could afford to keep up.

If finances have become a big issue in your marriage, is it because your dream is financially suffocating your family’s budget? If so, that is another good indication it is time to let it go.

No marriage or family relationship is worth a dream.

Look at how much you are willing to pay to make this dream a reality. Ask yourself some questions:

  • Do you fully reveal every cost down to the exact cent to your spouse or your family (or yourself) when budgeting for the expenses of this dream?
  • Do you find yourself adjusting, and readjusting, your budget to fit the new charges on the dream that just could not wait until they could be budgeted for?
  • Do you find yourself paying for services, accessories, tutoring, or whatever is attached to learning and growing in wisdom and knowledge for the dream, that you have not actually used or needed at the level that you are in for realizing the dream? (A good example here is buying a course or book on how to do something you have not yet come to in the journey of realizing your dream.)
  • Do you spend money on the dream without talking to your spouse about and end up finding yourself asking for forgiveness rather than permission?
  • Have your tithes and ministry offerings taken a hit in order to pay for the dream?

If you are spending more money on the dream than you are currently able to spend in excess of what you and your family need to survive, and you are neglecting the needs of the church and ministries you are committed to assisting, then you are doing a disservice to your family, your church and ministries, the Lord, and yourself.

There are proper ways for us to handle the financial business end of any dream that requires a cost to run it. If you need assistance in doing this, begin with Google and find a Christian accountant in your area for local help in getting started, and being a solid financially responsible follower of Christ. There is nothing more God would want to honor in your life than you honoring your commitments to the ministries He has already entrusted to you.

I mentioned above, and I will say it here with more clarity, while we are on the topic of relationships: if the dream you are holding onto is costing you the relationships and friendships you have made commitments to lately, you need to pray about that heart posture and ask God if this is what He wants for you.

We are given certain relationships for various reasons. Our spouses, our children, our parents, siblings, etc. are given to us for a purpose. God’s purpose for the family and the relationships He has brought into our lives must not be neglected in our journey to realizing our dreams.

Along the same lines, our reputation and witness should also never be harmed in any way for the sake of realizing our dreams. When we take risks that we were never meant to take for the sake of the gospel (and there are good, godly risks that we are meant to take for the sake of the gospel), when we project a characteristic that is not of God, when we sell our souls for the wrong god, we run the risk of losing the greatest gift we have ever received from God next to our salvation, and that is our witness.

Reputations, our witness of Christ in me to the world, cannot be rebuilt without a great deal of painstaking work. The task will become the thing we try to overcome for a long time, ultimately taking us away from the very dreams we were hoping to realize in the first place. There is no room for realizing dreams when we are doing the work of rebuilding our reputation and character once we have destroyed it with our poor choices.

Think hard about the cost of your decisions while attempting to realize your dreams, Friend.

When the thing you want does not reflect what God wants for you

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. And I saved the most important thing for last because I wanted it to be clear that the above is just as important, but not the most important factor in determining when to let something go.

God has a plan for your life:

“You have searched me, Lord,

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my

lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways…

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well…

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body,

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be…”

Psalm 139: 1-3; 13-14; 15b-16

God knows you, Friend. He knew you before anyone else knew you. Even before the earth knew you, God knew you. He ordained your life from its conception, and He walks out every one of your days with you, if you allow Him to do so.

There is not one good thing God would withhold from you if He means for you to have it. When you want something so crazy that only God could have put the idea in your heart, believe in it. Believe God for it. Work at it as you are working unto the Lord. And know that He will not withhold it from you.

However, you can want something for your life that God does not. You can hope for a dream that God does not intend to provide for you. I know this from experience, and I am here for you. This is a hurting place. When we come to this place where we know that the Lord wants us to let it go because He has something better for us but we do not yet understand that the thing He wants for us truly is better for us?

I can see many hearts hurting when this comes up, another reason I left it for last. It is hard to let go of something you believed in for so long only to find out your Lord may not have wanted that thing for you. Do we always know? No. Do we always let it go when we are supposed to? No. Is there grace for us when we pursue what we should not? Oh yes. And then some!

But if we want to do this life worshiping and following Christ we have to know that we are doing what we can for the Lord, and what He wants us to do for Him. This means reflecting on what He wants for us, and what He does not.

Look at your worship when you are pursuing your dream. Ask yourself some questions:

  • Are you engaging in personal worship with Christ through this season? Or has your personal worship been slacking because you are too tired, too distracted, too busy?
  • Do you consistently practice your corporate worship as it is scheduled with your local church? Hebrews tells us “not to neglect to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (10:25, CSB)
  • Have you engaged in the Word to seek God’s will through the season of pursuing your dream? For the purpose of finding the Lord’s will for your life, your day, your dream, the Word is the book we turn to, the author we serve. If we are not seeking God in the scriptures, we must wonder if that is because He will not approve of our recent heart’s desire.

Friend, these words are as difficult to process, as difficult to hear, as they are to write and deliver. Know that I believe in you. I believe in your desire to serve God. I believe in the dreams He has placed in each of you. I believe in the plan He has for your life. The life He has ordained for you since the foundations of the world, it will not escape you. You cannot stand in the way of the Lord’s plan for your life. Know that, Friend, and have the faith to follow the Lord’s will for what you may, or may not, need to let go.

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