Letting Go and Clinging On

Today’s post comes from a very dear friend and prayer partner, Elaine Stock. Ephesians 4:31 tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” I believe there are two reasons for this (if not more). Bitterness taints our witness for Christ, but more than that it–it holds us in bondage. Christ died to set us free. Don’t allow a painful past keep you from experiencing the freedom He’s offered.

Letting Go and Clinging on by Elaine Stock

You’re 17 and live with your dad in Troy, New York. He drinks. You sneak behind his back with his ATM card. He confronts you. He yells. You yell. He threatens to kill you and then himself. You plead with him not to. He pulls out his gun. Says the only way out is for you to shoot him instead of him killing you. You cry no. He says do it. You aim for his head. You pull the trigger. You’re arrested.

I wish I were pondering this scenario for a new plot. This is not fiction, though. It recently happened. But while the sensation is playing out across local TV news coverage and local newspapers, all I can think about is what has happened in this girl’s life to lead up to such a horrific event, and what will happen for the rest of her life? She’s a girl; not even a woman. Has she known Jesus as her personal Savior and loving Father, feeling His unconditional love, a love that would never push her up a brick wall like this? Will she ever be able to forgive her human father for this awful bind? Will she ever be able to forgive herself for her actions? Will she turn bitter toward others, figuring no one is worthy of her love?

Please do not misunderstand me. I make no condemnation toward this girl. It is not my role.

However, I do understand about forgiveness. And bitterness. Life is rough. I never asked to be a daughter of a schizophrenic mother, or a daughter of a hard-working father who was away from home more than not. Or, a wannabe writer still striving for publication past the glamorous age of thirty-five.

And, I’m an American. Shouldn’t my husband and I have two homes, 2.9 children, brand new cars in the driveway to take me to my high-paying executive career in some posh office because of course Americans never get their hands dirty working in—gasp—the food industry business?

Having experienced some of the things I have I could be really sour, but I’m not. Why? Because God loves me and I love Him. Sure, I have my moments … hours of downtimes. Yet, it all comes back to believing in God. As I’ve said often to friends, if it weren’t for my belief in God I’d never get out of bed each morning.

These past handful of years have presented me with a few other unexpected kinks to detangle. It was just a matter of a few weeks past that I realized I needed to let go of grudges, disappointments, and bitterness a wee more. Sure, these are human emotions, but lingering in this pit of muck serves no purpose. It takes me away from God. It pulls me away from what He wants me to offer others: His light and love.

But what about this 17 year-old-girl who killed her father? Please pray for her, all those who struggle daily with disappointments, sorrows, bitterness, and deeds gone wrong.

And what about you? Are you letting go of the bumps in your life? Are you, instead, clinging onto God’s loving hand?

Elaine Stock never expected that a college major in psychology and sociology would walk her through the see-saw industries of food service and the weight-loss business; co-ownership with her husband in piano restoration; and ten years in community leadership. All great fodder for creating fiction.

Elaine’s blog, Everyone’s Story  has been graced by an awesome international viewership. Everyone’s Story hosts weekly interviews and reflections aiming to uplift the spirits of writers, readers, and all those in-between.

A former RWA member, she has presented writing workshops. Presently involved in ACFW, she was a 2011 semi-finalist in the prestigious Genesis Contest in the contemporary fiction division. She would enjoy making new connections on Twitter and Facebook. Her first short story was published on Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

With her own childhood void of God, and becoming a Christian first in her twenties, she hopes her writing will bring His love to many and show how His light shines in troubled relationships.


Congrats to Amanda M! You won a copy of Katie Ganshert’s debut novel, Wildflowers From Winter. I’ll be contacting you shortly for your address.

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about getting rid of all anger and bitterness as we cling to the hope that doesn’t disappoint.

This doesn’t come easy. I often use the term “fighting for forgiveness” because emotions can be unpredictable and intense. But I don’t believe God would give us a command if it weren’t possible–through and in Him.

On our own, I’m not sure we can do it. But through Christ who strengthens us, we can do all things.


    1. Dicky, that is awesome! I read your post on your blog the other day about … was it your uncle? The man who called you? May God use you to show His love and truth to all your family.

    2. Dicky, thanks for visiting Jennifer’s blog today. I think releasing ill feelings toward our parents must be one of the most difficult things because not only are we conditioned (either societal or religiously) to love & honor our parents, but loving our parents is an innate instinct & desire. Yet, when our parents have hurt us–even unintentionally–we must move beyond the pain. I’m glad you let go of your bitterness. And, I don’t know about you, but speaking for myself, it’s a daily thing, this releasing of bitterness because it has an awful way of sneaking up on you, even if you’re convinced it’s gone for good.

  1. Very sad what children in this world face in today’s society. Thanks for sharing such a poignant post. My sister had schizophrenia and major depression. It’s had a rippling effect through our family that’s been tough to deal with at times. Praise God for my relationship with Christ! I’ll be praying for this girl.

    1. Laura, thanks for sharing your story as well. Schizophrenia is a rough ride, for sure. And you’re so right, it’s–any illness, really–effects the entire family. How can it not?

      God is so awesome…every day I live is yet another learning experience for me of His lifesaving love for us all.

      Thank you for praying for this girl.

  2. Elaine, I hadn’t heard about this girl. What a terrible tragedy–both the death of her father and all the years leading up to that death. Where was her mom? Are there siblings? So many questions go unanswered.

    1. I’ve been asking those very questions as well. Something like this doesn’t happen overnight. Harlan’s, the girl’s dad, family used to live just a few miles away from where we presently live–siblings went to school with my husband! Very small world. And that’s why we need–in my opinion–to watch out for each other. I whisper a lot of prayers for strangers that I come across–people who seem upset, troubled. Sometimes I wish I was in a situation to do more, but I have confidence in the One who can do so much more.

  3. Elaine,

    Thanks for sharing your story on this post. The newscast about the young woman ordered to shoot her father is chilling and horrific. It’s an example that in today’s world, truth is indeed sometimes less believable than fiction. I can only imagine the scars the teenager will bear for the remainder of her life.

    RE: forgiveness, I think that regardless of its magnitude, it is always a God-sized problem because we are not wired to do so in our flesh.

    Acceptance of our circumstances when live throws us a loop can also be difficult, but you, Elaine, are a wonderful example of what God can do in a life if we would only allow Him.

    KB Schaller, Author

    1. KB, I agree. I’d like to think that like Thoreau (I believe that was the one) wrote that we are all born a blank slate, yet I wonder more and more these days if we are genetically programmed to not forgive… almost like a survival of the fittest trait. Thank God we have Jesus to lean on.

      And thanks for the sweet words ♡

      1. Wow. I just made a connection: the girl’s name is Trinity… please Dear Lord, in your name we pray, like her name, may she embrace you, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  4. I’m definitely praying for that young girl and that she somehow ends up with a solid support system!

  5. Elaine,

    I heard that story on the news and it tore at my heart what that young girl went through. It isn’t our place to blame or cast judgement in anyway, but to love her, pray for her and know that in her brokeness God will reach her.

    When love and anger mix together as in the love for a parent and the anger that we might feel at times, it is confusing to us. How can we feel such mixed feelings all wrapped up in one person? Life is full of disappointments, but God’s love can turn those into triumphs if we let him.

    Thank you for your post, for sharing your story with us as well, and for reminding us of the basics that God’s love will always prevail, and in order to share his love, we need to feel it. In order to feel it, we can’t harbor anger and bitterness, we must let that go.

    God Bless.. and prayers to this young lady and all those who are hurting.

    1. Lynne, thanks so much for visiting Jennifer’s blog and commenting. Nursing anger, bitterness, and grudges is very time consuming. So time consuming, in fact, that it’s like a cancer–it takes over your whole life. And like any chronic disease, daily combat is necessary to ward off the evil one.

  6. Sometimes it’s just a constant battle, but one thing I do know, is that God can use even my bitterness for His Glory. It is the knowledge of my own disappointments that helps me sometimes to relate to those who are searching and not finding.

    1. Very excellent point, Connie! And we certainly need to help each other… that’s why I’m glad Jennifer offers this unique opportunity on her blog 🙂

  7. Elaine,
    So true that we all have things in our past we need to let go of. And often we think we’ve moved on until something triggers the emotions and we find the hurt still has not completely healed. Yet God is gracious and will continue to love us and work with us till we are perfected in Him. Thanks for sharing this post.

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