Worth Revisiting: Hanging By My Fingernails

Before I had the courage to let go of my whole way of living,

two inner images rose up in my mind as symbols of my controlling behaviour.

I removed all religious comments from this article, to post it on a secular site and I have decided to leave it this way. The churched reader will know all the biblical references and the unchurched and seeker will not be overwhelmed with Catholic lingo.

When my family was still young and I had only seven children from twelve-years-old down to a newborn, I earnestly strove to raise the best children I could. Yet all my effort was actually hindering their development because my anxiety and control acted like a barrier, a prison around my them. I was, in fact, preventing my children’s inner, natural development into well-balanced, creative people.

I did not take subtle hints, so a powerful inner image rose up from my subconscious which symbolized what I was actually doing by refusing to let go of control.

First I saw an ocean and a tiny black dot in the water. Slowly the image grew larger till I was face to face with a huge octopus.
The scene switched and now 7 tentacles wrapped around each of my children with my husband in the eighth. All of them were grey, limp almost lifeless.

I suddenly realized that I was, in fact, the octopus; I was squeezing the life out of my family.

In this inner vision, a sword appeared in a blaze of light and severed each tentacle one by one. The severed tentacle shrivelled and fell off each child. As soon as each one was set free, they began dancing and laughing in the sunshine. Soon all seven were joyfully playing.

The eighth tentacle was wrapped tightly around my husband. The kids stopped playing and kneeled on the ground, weeping, desperately pulling and tugging the tentacle but to no avail. Suddenly, in a flash of light, the sword of truth cut through the tentacle, my husband was released and came back to life.

Yet even after this appalling self-revelation, I still could not let go of control.

It was like I stood on the hub of a wagon wheel with my large family balanced on the rim. I crouched on the hub, frantically turning this way and that, grabbing all the broken spokes, desperate to hold the crumbling structured together.

I realized that I had to let go of this futile sense of responsibility and control but I was afraid to stop, afraid that one moment of inattention would cause my entire family to tumble down into the abyss.

I was trapped.

Yet, I realized that once again, my tension, my control acted like a wall, shutting out all life. My sincere concern and earnest self-sacrifice actually magnified everyone’s brokenness by freezing everyone and everything.

images (15)

It took years, but I finally surrendered control. The broken spokes were instantly repaired. The kids and my husband started smiling. I was free. We were free.

Sometimes we just need to “let go” of the things that we worry about (i.e. our children, loved ones, or family members). When we are able to do that, we (and the people we care about) can then truly experience the freedom of living! I read a quote that said the worst sin against another human being beside hate and murder is trying to control and manipulate them because you are stealing their real identity, molding them into a false image.

connecting with Theology is a Verb

10 thoughts on “Worth Revisiting: Hanging By My Fingernails

    1. As a person w/ anxiety as a daily cross to bear, giving up control of situations is always difficult. Thanks for providing perspective in a creative and purposeful way.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know all about anxiety…laughter really helps, cognitive therapy, but it is also a walk of faith which I cannot rush or I​ get even more anxious about being anxious!!. C.S. Lewis also said anxiety​ is not a sin but a cross to bear


  1. I couldn’t wait to share this with you. It happened yesterday during the consecration.

    I was feeling like I was in a boat with lots of holes. I was using my fingers and toes in a frantic effort to control the sinking boat. Lol. Can you imagine that?

    Jesus gave me a gift that helped me to understand. He was in my little boat and was filling in the holes. Every time I tried to reach over he gently motioned with his hand in a stop “I have it okay?” He told me to simply row. “Remember the way that I taught you?” he said.

    He was talking about one of my greatest passions ignited in youth. Yes, I remember the way the paddle gently broke through the calm and tranquil waters of the lake ~ the almost effortless gliding of the boat along rivers and bends filled with the sights and sounds of nature.

    So, I’m the bowman and he is the sternman. I won’t get out of doing the work, but I can be assured of the backup and guidance of grace. Even if he sleeps, I know he is with me always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. powerful- love the image, love the thoughts, love that you grasp the whole point of letting go of control.

      looks like we are wired in a similar way. Imagery and dreams are one of the purest​ ways God communicates with us because the right brain receives impressions, intuition without the left brain gettint it all wrong


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