Updated: Mar 11
A nerve-racking tale about letting go of things that no longer serve your purpose
Do you feel trapped by your beliefs?
Have you changed inside, but you still try to make your old beliefs fit? You almost let them go and then you make a panicked grab for them again because they make you feel safe.
If you let them go, you fear you’ll feel vulnerable. So, you go through the days and weeks almost letting them go, then grabbing them again, so you feel safe once more.
Let me tell you a story that perfectly illustrates this experience. It happened years ago when I was a twenty-year-old student at a college near a little English village called Bricket Wood.
On one of those summer evenings when the sun didn’t set until past nine o’clock, an American classmate, David (not his real name), asked me to go with him to the Waggon & Horses, a medieval pub in Elstree, a forty-minute walk away.
Glad of an opportunity to leave the campus, I slipped on a sleeveless dress and didn’t wear stockings because of the heat. As was the fashion, I wore high heels and carried a shoulder bag.
David walked quickly. He wanted that beer.
After a few minutes I wished I’d worn flatter shoes. But this soon became the least of my worries when the elastic in my white, lace-trimmed panties snapped, and they begin an inexorable slide toward the ground.
I made a grab for them and turned the sudden movement into an adjustment of my shoulder bag. Then I stumbled. David tightened his link with my arm and leaned forward to steady me. We almost bumped heads. ‘You alright?’ he asked. ‘I’m fine,’ I lied. My voice sounded like I was trying out for a soprano role in an Italian opera.
We began walking again but it was a nightmare as I tried to keep one arm casually through his and the other inelegantly clutching a bunch of dress material that hopefully included at least a wisp of white, lace-trimmed panties.
The shoulder bag kept slipping off. My conversational offerings became disjointed, almost meaningless. ‘I said, Mr Armstrong’s latest trip was a great success,’ said David. ‘Ah. Was it? I mean, yes it was,’ I managed.
My Religious Beliefs at the Time
This was a time in my life when I was very religious. I belonged to a church run by Herbert Armstrong. He preached the world was 6,000 years old, he was God’s representative on earth, and Christ would return very soon to quell all sinners and put The World Tomorrow firmly in place. Unfortunately, I believed all this. So did David.
David kept up the conversation. ‘I bet Mr Armstrong never thought that one day he’d be shaking hands with world leaders. We never know where God will lead us, what door He will open next, what opportunity will land at our feet.’
While he talked, I struggled on, fearing my panties would suddenly land at my feet.
We finally reached the Waggon & Horses pub and David went to the bar to order. I hurried to the ladies’ room through a fug of beer fumes and dim lighting. In a toilet cubicle I released my hold. The panties slipped soundlessly to the floor and morphed into a handful of useless soft silk.
I checked my bag for a solution: comb, tissues, pen, small notebook, Olay moisturizing hand cream, a Band-Aid, and a Footprints in the Sand bookmark. Where is God now, when I needed Him to carry me back to the dorm, leaving only one set of footprints along Smug Oak Lane? I pushed away resentful thoughts about the impracticality of the God I put all my trust in, and upended the bag, hopeful that a miraculous safety pin or an angel-sent hair clip would appear.
No such luck.
I seized the panties and managed to tie a knot in one corner. For a moment I thought the horrendous problem was solved, but I quickly found I couldn’t get the narrower waistband over my hips.
I undid the knot and glanced at my watch. I’d been gone an embarrassingly long time. David would think me constipated if I didn’t turn up soon. Despairing, I put the panties back on and left the cubicle. Using the small mirror over the hand basin as a guide I practised placing one hand on my hip while holding the bag strap in a way that deemphasized that I was also clutching a substantial portion of my clothing. There was nothing else I could do.
David was seated in a dark brown leather armchair in the snug. He’d ordered a shandy for me and a beer for himself. I sat in the armchair opposite him and sipped the lukewarm drink, finding it strange because we Aussies drink beer cold.
I was aware of his beery breath blowing my way. He spoke loudly, like all Americans I’d known. ‘Relax!’ he said, informing all pub customers that I was, for some unknown reason, uptight.
I tried to follow his command, musing that I’d spent most of my life listening to men with American accents telling me in loud, nasal voices what to do. I finished the shandy, barely attending to his chatty gambits, thinking only of the regrettably long walk home.
Safely tucked up in bed back in the dorm with a secure pair of panties once more encircling my waist, I was struck by the realisation that when the elastic snapped, all I had to do was point to the night sky. ‘Wow,’ I could’ve exclaimed. ‘Look at the sunset! Is that the first star appearing?’
Then while David dutifully admired God’s creation I could’ve released my tenuous grip, stepped out of the panties, thrown the useless bit of silk into the bushes, and nonchalantly strolled on.
It would take me a few more years to let go of my religious beliefs like I should’ve let go of those panties on that warm English summer evening. But I finally did, and the relief was incredible.
What To Do When Beliefs No Longer Perform Their Function
Why did I struggle to keep my panties up when they no longer performed their function? It was an illogical thing to do. It didn’t make sense. But I kept trying to retain them because, although they were useless, they still made me feel safe.
I was afraid to let them go.
Why do we struggle to keep religious beliefs when they no longer perform their function? Why don’t we let go of things that no longer serve us?
We keep trying to retain them because, although they are useless, they still make us feel safe.
We are afraid to let them go.
We have beliefs because we fear not having them.
Beliefs make us feel safe.
But if we really examine our beliefs, we’ll see that all our beliefs are doing no useful purpose.
They don’t keep us safe.
They keep us fearful.
Want to release yourself from the grip of your beliefs?
Don’t complicate it. Don’t hobble along like I did, trying to hold onto something that no longer served me.
Just let go.
Release your mental hold of them.
That may seem a hard thing to do, but it's far easier than keeping them. (Remember me and my useless undies!)
Step away from your beliefs.
And move on.
And then ask yourself if you need any beliefs at all.
With love, Marlane
If you're interested in examining your religious beliefs, go to my website and enter your details to read new ideas every week and receive a free PDF: "5 Questions You Can Ask to Help You Know If a Belief You Have Isn't Worth Keeping".