I threw away my keys yesterday.
I’m not talking about the time where I threw away a bag of garbage and heard the unsettling clink of my office keys also hitting the dumpster. (Luckily they landed on top of a bag of trash and I was able to rescue them with a coat hanger.)
No, I’m talking about clearly and with forethought throwing a set of keys into the
trash. The thing is, I don’t know what they were keys to. I wasn’t missing keys. I have reason to believe that they belonged to the house at 2701 Ashburton Lane, my childhood home. If you go there now, you’ll need no keys for there’s only a school ball field there now. After being sold, the house was moved away. I feel certain they also changed the locks. So why was it so hard to throw those keys away?
As I’ve cleaned out family homes and even moved my self, I’ve found numerous sets of keys, most of which I have no idea as to where they belong. Even so, it’s still hard to throw them out. I always have a nagging feeling that one day I’m going to come up against that door where those keys fit and I’m going to need them. Throwing keys out seems a bit reckless to me, a little bit of living on the edge. (I know that as living on the edge goes, it’s not much. Bear with me.)
I see my clients struggling with much the same thing. Most of the time it’s not actual keys but rather old beliefs. Someone along the way told them, by word or deed, that this was a key to life. This was what was true about the world. This was what was true about their place in the world. This is what was true about God’s place in the world. They’ve held onto those keys for a long time.
The only problem is that they don’t open any doors for them any more. In fact, sometimes they get in the way of opening doors. My clients have no place for those keys in their lives. Still, it’s hard to let them go. They worked once. Or someone they loved very much gave the keys to the client. Or someone they felt like they should have loved passed along those keys.
One of our tasks as adults is individuation. That’s a fancy psychological term for claiming our own lives. We have to look at what others have taught us about life and faith and even who we are and see if it really rings true in light of what we know about life and faith and our place in the world. Does it open doors for us or does it keep the doors closed? Letting go of those keys doesn’t mean betraying that person or loving them any less. It’s just an indication that as we grow and grow up, sometimes we bring with us the things we learned. And sometimes it’s time to let them go.