Clinging? To what?

HAVE you ever thought of yourself as tenacious? Ever felt unwilling to yield, to let go of something or someone you thought vital to your well-being, your happiness? There's an old quadrangle of brick and stone buildings in the heart of the university I attended. Each fall, the vines that cover the outside walls turn lovely shades of yellow and red, making the campus alive with color.

One year I noticed the gardeners had cut to the ground several of the thickest vines. I learned that the plants had been causing damage to the surface of the brick, so the buildings were in need of repair. The vines were cut back, not permanently destroyed, so that restoration could take place. When that was accomplished, the tenacious vines grew again, working their way up the wall to add to the old buildings' grandeur.

We've probably heard the expression ``clinging vine,'' which suggests an inability to let go. And it does seem that many of us begin to exhibit this negative aspect of tenacity when faced with the possible loss of a friend, a job, even a cause near to our hearts. Out of fear and despair we try to hold on to people and things, when the need is to begin to claim our own God-given strength and wholeness.

A favorite passage of mine in the Bible reads: ``Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.... For the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.''1 Yield in this context indicates productivity. But we can't be productive in our lives unless we're willing to yield our sense of possessiveness and are willing to trust God. Then feelings of hopelessness will turn into fulfilled hope.

In the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy2 first defines wilderness as many have experienced it: ``Loneliness; doubt; darkness.'' But she goes on to add an uplifting sense of the word, consonant with Biblical passages such as the one quoted above: ``Spontaneity of thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence.''3 Working from this more spiritual sense of ourselves and our environment we can be rightly tenacious, holding to the good that God is constantly giving us instead of hanging on for dear life to a materialistic concept of what will fulfill our lives.

Many years ago an individual I had been dating for a long time broke off the relationship. I was crushed! And, like the old vines, I clung tenaciously and refused to let go of this person. I was desperately afraid that if I did release my friend there would be nothing left for me, that this would cause an irreplaceable loss.

In great despair, I prayed. As I reached out for guidance, I began to see that I was and always had been God's beloved child. This was the unchanging, uninterrupted, spiritual reality of my being. I realized that He was my source of all love, that I could never be left without a full supply of goodness, care, affection. I also saw that in expressing God's great love I couldn't hang on, because that would be an unkindness to my friend. It would hamper both of our lives and our growth. Slowly, trusting God more each day, I let go of a tenacious, personal sense of love and yielded to my God-given strength.

The result was a quieter friendship with this individual; a better sense of morality, respect, love; a greater feeling of my own value and worth. And there was no lack of companionship from others as time went on.

Isn't a willingness to trust God the deep need when we find ourselves clinging? As soon as we cut away those limiting beliefs that would place happiness outside of our God-derived being; when we let go of anything that would not nurture but smother the good in our relationships with others; when we can back off mentally and let ourselves and others be free to do individual growing, then we are letting the Christ, the divine healing influence, bless all involved. We are letting divine Love, God, govern. Then healing takes place and we see ourselves lovingly held in the arms of our dear Father.

Isn't that the right kind of tenacity? Holding fast to what is really true? As we stop fearing -- stop because God is at hand, as Christ Jesus proved so persuasively -- we move out of a wilderness of loneliness, doubt, and despair to a life where every aspect bears fruit and yields strength.

1Joel 2:21, 22. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 597. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Delight the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalms 37:4

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