Pastor’s Pen: Learning to let go of our impulses

Rev Jonny Campbell-Smyth.
Rev Jonny Campbell-Smyth.

I can remember one particular day in primary school playing a game called ‘Kiss-Kat’, where boys will chase after girls to try to kiss them.

At 10 years old, most boys have no interest at all in kissing girls, but not me. I had my eyes fixed on a girl in my class called Elaine, and I was determined to catch her. The chase was on. Eventually after what seemed like hours, I caught her and attempted to give her a peck on the cheek. I don’t think Elaine wanted kissed by any boys as she struggled to escape. But in the struggle I had obviously hurt her. Even at 10 years old I knew I had done the wrong thing. Instead of letting Elaine go, I was determined that I would get the kiss I deserved.

Letting go of our impulses can be difficult at times. Impulses get a hold of us, especially where we know we have weaknesses. We know what’s the right answer, but it’s very hard to let go of what we know could be wrong or damaging. You can’t seem to stop the impulse, and you know it’s taking over, but you just can’t let go.

I read a story once about how the Zulus in Africa catch monkeys. Their trap is nothing more than a coconut. The Zulus simply cut a hole in the coconut shell, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as much as he can, then start to withdraw it. But he can’t, because his fist is now larger than the hole. He can’t get free of the trap unless he gives up the fruit, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and catch him.

How many times in our struggles with weaknesses have we been caught because we won’t let go? The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to wrestle with right and wrong. But he gave us some tips how we can make the right decisions in life. Here’s what he said to the Church in Philippi: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”.

Let’s not get trapped like the monkeys, and let’s work at letting go of those things that we know steal all joy and lasting peace from this life.

By Rev Jonny Campbell-Smyth