loosening my grip

Most of my favorite conversations happen over cake. Usually with coffee or wine.
I licked frosting off my fingers and talked apprehensively about something in my life I wasn’t sure of. Something I wanted desperately, but wasn’t quite sure that I trusted.
My friend put her fork down, and opened up her hand. Palm up. And said this, “Hold it loosely”.  I nodded. Took another sip and we moved on to other important topics like running shoes and T. Swift.

Later that night when I crawled into bed and my thoughts began to run wild I reigned them in a little with that idea. Holding the things I value loosely. Carefully. With a willingness to let them go. Or at least admit that they aren’t really mine. I looked it up online and stumbled across this quote from a Chuck Swindoll book:

“I'll never forget a conversation I had with the late Corrie ten Boom(a holocaust survivor.  She said to me, in her broken English, "Chuck, I've learned that we must hold everything loosely, because when I grip it tightly, it hurts when the Father pries my fingers loose and takes it from me!”

                                    Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity

This morning my family went to breakfast. A crowded diner where the syrup is warm, the pancakes extra fluffy and my coffee cup never hit empty. My kids sticky with syrup we shoveled pancakes and hashbrowns into their mouths. Tess had more than she could eat, so my husband snagged a piece of bacon off her plate. Despite the fact that she had two more pieces, she threw a fit and ripped it from his hand. She also grabbed the other two strips and held them in her opposite paw. With two fists full of greasy bacon that she didn’t even want, she eyed her pancakes and wondered how to get it in her mouth without putting down the bacon. And she couldn’t. She had to put something down to pick something else up.  Even if it meant someone might eat her bacon.

 Sometimes I wonder if my daughter is related to me. She can sniff out all things pink and glitter from miles away. Yesterday she watched you tube videos on cake decorating for a full hour. She colors in the lines, and accessorizes and insists on matching. But one gene, that I know she got from me (besides her freckles) is her tight grip. She holds on ferociously to what she wants. And refuses to let go. And will fight you tooth and nail while you try to pry it out of her hot little hand. Literally, I have the bite marks to prove it.

 This summer she had a fascination with roly polies. She would grab a few off the driveway on our way to the car and always want to take them with her wherever we were going. She would hold them tightly, and they rarely made the trip alive. She would then drop them and look for something else to squish and suffocate with her vice grip.

Not everything should be held so tightly.
Roly polies. Chips. Butterflies. Christmas ornaments. Cookies.
All things Tess has learned the hard way could be crushed and damaged in her tight closed fist.
My finances. My writing. My career. My relationships.
All things I have learned the hard way could be crushed and damaged in my own tight fist.

It is instinct to hold on to things tightly. When my kids were babies before they could talk or crawl or even hold up their own hands – I’d slip my finger into their tiny fist and they’d grab on tight.

 But eventually they outgrew it.

 And so should I.

 And I can’t help but question that simple advice. Of my friend’s open palm. And how impossible it seems to hold anything at all with your hand like that.
There are all kinds of obvious connections to make – like all this stuff we are holding onto so tightly isn’t ours anyways. We should be giving more than we are gripping. But, it also made me think of something else. Awkward first dates.

 I am a hand holder. And when I first started dating my husband (or a slew of way less great guys before that), I’d want them to take my hand. That first little sign that maybe they liked me. However, I usually wanted them to make that first move, so I’d awkwardly have my hand resting face up on my leg in the car, or dangling dangerously close to the popcorn in the movie theatre. Just in case the guy the guy wanted to grab it. I’m sure it was sad and obvious. But more often than not it worked.

Because an open palm is way easier to hold than a tight fist.
So maybe you can hold on to things with an open hand after all.
Hold things loosely but love them fiercely.