At two, Renee was still attached to her pacifier. It was either in her mouth or in her hand, being very much her primary security blanket (though there was also a bedraggled blankie in tow or in sight.). If she felt stressed, that passy would get a furious workout. But most of the time it just hung carelessly in her mouth. You could even take it out of her mouth. It was a game, which had but one rule: you must—period, absolutely, immediately, without fail—give it back (or your otherwise sweet, trusting child would become alarmingly unglued). But it was time for her to give it up. She was a big girl now.
So we talked about it with her, played pretend that we were taking it away so she could get used to the idea. Longer and longer she patiently waited, first for a minute, then, five, all the while we praised her for being so big. She played along. Finally, the day came to toss her passy in the garbage. Her wise mom put a fresh grocery bag in our kitchen can with a lid. Renee peered into its darkness as I held it open with my foot. Then she looked up with a nervous smile, and ran to her bedroom. A few more rehearsals later, she finally tossed it in. She looked up at us as we encouraged her and told her how big she was. She looked in, wanting both it and our praise, and took the whole bag, clutching it in her arms as she ran to hide in a closet, passy inserted with her eyes wild.
She genuinely struggled, but by the end of the day, she let her passy go. I’m still proud of her. She saw through the illusion, realized her passy wasn’t warm and soft and life-giving. It was artificial, lifeless, void.
I have been thinking about that word “let” in Eph 4:31. We are comfortable with our sin. It comforts us and protects us. We are unable on our own to kill those instincts and reactions to threats. We need coaching and encouragement. We need to see they are false illusions of caring for ourselves. While it is our decision in the end, we need help as we grow. We need those around us who have let these things go and discovered they are safe, safer, without them. Are you clutching anger and bitterness and resentment like a child clinging to its blanket and pacifier? Come and look into the garbage can where sin is put to death. In the end, our identification with Christ on the cross isn’t so much losing what we cherish as it is being set free from what we loathe.