Friday, November 22, 2013

All That You Can't Leave Behind

In 2000, the band U2 released an album called 'All That You Can't Leave Behind'.

I've always thought that was one of the best album titles ever,  because it can be taken in so many different directions.

By all accounts, the band was "reapplying" for the job of best band in the world and the title reflected their desire to bring together the best of their past with their continued development as artists. As the lyrics from the album revealed, there were other layers of meaning - especially as it related to the spiritual life. What are the things we need to be whole and human? And what do we NOT need? What can we safely leave behind?

As folks in the recovery community say: "You can never have enough of what you don't really want".

But we want it anyway.

And that's the question I pose to you today:

What can you leave behind?

What should you leave behind?

It's easy to walk through life dragging around a backpack full of stuff that hinders us:

-Memories we can't shake
-Grudges we can't let go
-Deferred or denied dreams we still cherish
-Relationships, once important, that have become toxic
-Habits that die hard, but suck the life out of us
-Regrets that keep us awake at night
-Things we've said we want to take back, but can't, and we don't know how to undo them

Here's the thing to remember: Leaving something behind does not necessarily mean that you get left behind.

Leaving something behind may be the key to freedom and joy and health in the future. Even though it feels hard and like a sort of death.

Think of it instead - this Fall - as a pruning. Old stuff that once served a purpose, being trimmed away so that new life can flourish.

So, is there something in your life that was never healthy that you need to cut away - a habit, a relationship, a misguided ambition?

So, is there something in your life that once served a good purpose, but whose time has passed for you - a job, a non-binding commitment, an organization?

If it's the first, cut it away today.

If it's the second, have the guts to hash out your hesitation, say goodbye, move on, embrace a different and ultimately better future.  But do it with hope and not despair, with gladness for what it once meant, not resentment for what it has come to mean.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of the great writer C.S. Lewis. Here's what he said about this:
"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind"

You won't grow until you go.

If it's not healthy, and not good - if it's going nowhere fast - leave it behind.


  1. Thank you, Todd. Each of these posts has been speaking to where I am right now. Thanks for taking the time for sharing.

  2. Thank you, Beth. I am so happy and grateful to hear that!