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Holding On – Loosely or Tightly?

When life goes out of control, I often hold on tighter. But is that always the best choice? Really Blog Manager, Carla Foote, challenges us to wisely discern.


Holding On – Loosely or Tightly?

By Carla Foote

Last week we had to cancel a trip that we were looking forward to. We waited until the very last minute to decide, but it just didn’t seem prudent to fly away to see family who now had all tested positive for COVID. Even in our decision-making I wavered, thinking, “Maybe we could help by dropping off groceries at their house while we stayed in our Airbnb.” But as we considered the options, we realized that any help we could give was limited, and getting sick far from home wouldn’t be helpful at all.

I was sad and mad. And just tired. Tired of that phrase we have used for the past two years, “We are holding it all loosely.”

Actually our lack of control over circumstances didn’t start two years ago, it’s always been true. It’s just that in some seasons of life we can go for quite a while with the illusion that we are in control.

As I processed my emotions – of sad and mad and tired – I also thought about what it means to hold something loosely. And I also wondered what I should be holding tightly. And how to have the wisdom to discern what to hold loosely in life and what to hang onto.

People Matter

My thoughts first turned to people - the people we weren’t going to visit now - family who are very dear to my heart. I hold people and relationships tightly, because people matter, and relationships are important, and expressing love is life-giving. So I want to hold people and relationships tightly.

And yet – the circumstances and expectations connected with people and relationships are something I might need to hold loosely. All the people I love in my life might not follow the same path that I think is best. They may make small and large decisions that are different from the decisions I would make. So while I hold my value and love for people tightly, I might have to hold the expectations for people loosely.


Another area where I’ve been reflecting on holding loosely and holding tightly is in terms of practices. During some seasons of my life, I’ve struggled with daily habits. Some of my struggle has been that I’m not consistent at times, which can lead to dropping a practice completely. But once I let go of that expectation of perfection (hold it loosely), I see how some rhythms are life-giving. Practices like sitting with God in the morning and getting outside for some exercise every day have helped provide a healthy foundation for my daily life.

Perhaps the wisdom I need in practices is to hold tightly to the purpose of the practice – to exercise my soul and body – and loosely to how it works out on a daily basis. Whether I walk or sit with God for 30 minutes, or an hour, or 15 minutes, the practice is what I need to hold tightly to. The specifics might need to be looser for the reality of my life.

The Way Forward

Once I start pondering what to hold tightly or loosely in my life, many other examples come to mind. With so much of life, the easy answers may not be the most robust for living in wisdom. But perhaps self-reflection with our areas of struggle can include the question:

Am I holding this (idea, person, activity, thing) too tightly or too loosely?

How about you? Where are you in figuring out what to hold tightly and what to hold loosely, and how to know the difference?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

Carla Foote is the Really blog manager. She also writes and edits for other clients through Fine Print Editorial. When she isn't at her computer working, she enjoys walking and gardening. She hopes to take a few more trips in 2022 - maybe even use her passport - but not holding that too tightly! She serves on the board of Magazine Training International, equipping Christian communicators around the world to share the Good News in their own context.


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