what oatmeal is teaching me of letting go

what oatmeal is teaching me of letting go

No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. Or given up writing.

Although the abysmal lack of writing in my life the past few weeks is some clue as to my mental/emotional state lately.

Last Friday, my oatmeal exploded in the microwave three times. I repeat, three.

I had woken up thirty minutes before I had to leave for an important meeting with the neuro-oncologist at the hospital, but of course anyone who knows me knows I love breakfast.

I had practically no food in the fridge, because since my college best friends visited Easter weekend, I had not been cooking or doing groceries.

It had been a beautiful weekend of catching up, walking my favorite parts of Montreal and indulging in croissants. But when it was done, I crashed, sort of.

No eggs or yogurt, so I went for oatmeal. But with no time to cook it slow over the stove, I scooped it into my CBE mug, doused it with some boiling water and set the microwave for 2 minutes.

I won’t go into the details, but basically, each time the microwave beeped ‘done’, I opened the door to water spilling over the glass disc, speckled with half-cooked oats.

I tried covering the mug with a paper towel, even the plastic circular dome my roommate keeps on top of the microwave, but was greeted with the same unfortunate scene each time I opened the door.

Half a paper towel roll later, the problematic mug of half-cooked oats was relegated to the fridge and I dashed out of the door with no breakfast.

A start to a day that consisted of a call from TD Fraud saying there was an attempted withdrawal of $982 from my account (and me frantically calling back only to be put on hold for 30 minutes and finally giving up), an unsettled day at the lab wondering how to wrest back the money, and the electricity going out in the metro on the way back home from lab.

I’m in the dark surrounded by complete strangers in this underwater tunnel. I don’t know how long we will be here, but there is absolutely nothing I can do, and in the moment, it’s almost laughable.

For all my running around trying to control situations, and I’m finally brought face to face with my humanness.

I settle into the blue hard plastic seat and peer into the pitch-black, never feeling more like Jonah in the belly of the whale.

A few times this week, I’ve felt defeated. Waking up in the morning with not an ounce in me wanting to go for a run in the brisk cold, so I lie pancake-style on my bed covers in the liminal space between sleep and wake (c’mon we’ve all been there).

Then, after an unknown length of time, I curl from a pancake into a ball, my four limbs tucked in, a return to the fetal position of safety. And I pray.

By pray, I mean, an uttering of incoherent phrases because that’s the only thing my mind can process at the moment: Lord refresh me. Lord renew me. Lord give me strength. 

It’s not like there’s anything in myself that can make strength return to my bones, the motivation return to my spirit. So, I do the one thing I know how to do: slowly unclench my fists and let go. 

There’s something in the unclenching, the letting go of control, that’s healing in itself.

There was this study done on patients with advanced lung cancer and letting go: the group that had early access to palliative care alongside standard treatments had greater improvements in quality of life and survival, compared to the group that underwent aggressive end-of-life treatments.

Perhaps it was this mental shift of letting go that helped them survive.

And those who thought they were actively working to improve their situation were in fact only fighting to a faster death.

I read Ephesians 2:8-9 recently:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one should boast.

It seems that no matter how many times I read it, I’m stil trying to learn this one truth.

I’m not in control. I don’t save myself. I can’t guarantee my own success.

Man, I can’t even guarantee my oatmeal will cook without exploding after 2 minutes in the microwave.

But, I know what Krysti (one of my favorite women bloggers!) said this past week is ringing true for me:

Some things will get graciously taken out of my hands – tomorrow or years down the road. Some new things will get placed in my hand. Some things will fall through the cracks as I stretch my hand wider, trying to hold it all in. I’m learning to be okay with that.

It’s all part of the process. I was never meant to carry it all. I was never the one who was supposed to be deciding.

All I’m asked to do is be faithful, and keep my hands open.

So, this week, I’m learning to come more to terms with my humanness, to be more grace-filled, to let go more.

I finally managed to go on a run this morning (the trick is to pull on some stretchy exercise pants before you are conscious enough to doubt that decision, then you’re just too guilty to pull them off).

And my day started out a lot better than it has been in the past few.

I’m slowly getting back into the rhythms, while continuing to remind myself – open hands, Vivienne, open hands to whatever is to come.

Because only with open hands, can I fully let go – and fully receive.



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