When it’s time to let go 

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Everyone has relationships, circumstances or dreams in their life that just don’t go well. Sometimes it can be so hard to know when to push through and keep trying and when to let things go. Today I wanted to share some general guidelines to help you evaluate when it’s time to keep pushing through and when it’s time to let go. These guidelines are more general in nature and can be applied to lots of different situations from relationships to choices about letting go of a home. Think of these questions as a filter as you pass through the layers it will become clearer if it’s time to let go. 

Let’s start off with the three questions and then go into them deeper: 

1. Do you have control over the circumstances? 

2. Are things likely to improve? 

3. Are the problems so big that the quality of life is impacted? 

Sometimes when you list out the factors it becomes clear that you don‘t have control over the main areas of the problem.  With relationships you can only control your behavior and not the behavior of the other person.  One of the things I find helpful is making a list of what is in your control and what is not in your control. Title the top of each list: What I control and What I don’t control.  

Once you’re honest about what you really have control over you can start to see if the things not in your control are the biggest contributors to the problem. If many of the reasons things aren’t working are from the “I don’t control it list” then it’s time to think about if letting go is the better option. Think of these areas as a filter and if you pass through the first filter then move down to the next level to keep testing if it’s time to let go. 

After looking at what is under your control the next area to look at is the likelihood that things can improve. This can be an area that’s really tough to be honest in. Especially when an emotional attachment is involved. One of the toughest times I see this choice is in deciding to leave a marriage or when to stop treatment and move to hospice care for a medical illness. Sometimes the emotions are too strong and alone you can’t correctly estimate if things can improve. Bringing others into this decision is crucial so that a more objective person can help you estimate if things truly can improve or not.  

In the example of leaving a marriage it can be hard to evaluate what behaviors or circumstances can improve and what likely won’t.  A therapist is a great person to help you sort out what things are easy to change and what patterns or issues tend to be very resistant to change. For other areas there are knowledgably people to guide you. Think about doctors, veterinarians, real estate agents, therapists, or experts in the area. Depending on the decision there are knowledgeable people to give unemotional facts about the situation that give you a better idea of the realistic expectations. 

The last layer to be evaluated is how much the problems and concerns impact the quality of life in this area. Are the issues so overwhelming that there isn’t much good anymore? Is there enough redeeming good to be able to cope with the bad? We know there is no perfect (fill in the blank) but if the bad is so big that there is little or no good left then it is time to consider letting go.  

As hard as it is to decide when to let go having some criteria to think about makes the decision a little easier. Sometimes God calls us to do impossible things and other times we are holding on when God has given us the permission to let go. Always pray and lean into him for hard decisions but don’t be afraid to reason problems through. Knowing when to let go is always a difficult emotional decision but hopefully this equips you to make that choice. 

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