Hanging By My Fingernails


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.

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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 in fact 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 eigth 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 as if 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 structure 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.It took years but I finally surrendered control. Much to my chagrin,the broken spokes of our family were instantly repaired. The kids and my husband started smiling because a huge burden of tension dissipated as if it had never been there in the first place.

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! Years ago someone told me that,

“The worst sin against another human being besides hate and murder is trying to control and manipulate them because you are stealing their real identity, molding them into a false image.”

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