Let Him Fly

If you’ve been following my blog long enough, you may have picked up on the fact that I love Patty Griffin so much that I would name all of our children, “Patty Griffin” if Ryan would have it. He won’t. So instead, I mull over her lyrics and name my blog after one of her songs. A decent substitution.

So the thing is, Patty sings a song called “Let Him Fly” that – wow – just rocks. It embodies an ancient nugget of advice that I have heard from old and young women alike: that sometimes, the best way to love a man is to let him go… Figuratively, at times; literally at other times. At times, to keep him closer; at other times, to get some distance.

Over the years, I’ve replayed certain phrases of the song for different circumstances.

Most recently, the phrase “I’m gonna let him fly” has been my secret marriage mission so that tonight, I could write to you about four completed months of letting Ryan fly free of my nagging. (More or less, ya know?)

Here’s what happened: In August or thereabouts, Ryan finally got through to me that he basically couldn’t even go to the bathroom without me giving him advice. This embarrassing example of my nagging habit opened my eyes to the fact that, although I was feeling pretty good about the ways in which I was maturing as a wife, I was totally overlooking the fact that I was harping on quirks or idiosyncrasies that I would have ignored in any other person.

Being the studious little teacher that I am, my habit was to observe something “improvable” and look for the perfect opportunity to give advice, pass along a business card, offer a 3-point outline, or explain an applicable parable. (If I hadn’t been her, I could have easily have told you: nobody likes that girl.)

Our revolutionary conversation taught me that all of my “wise advice” was being communicated as criticism and nit-picking! If Ryan had *dared* to treat me the same way – and he has plenty of material with all of my quirks – I would have had a fit. A real fit.

It was time to ‘fess up: I was actually – gulp – a nagging wife. As soon as I recognized my sorry state, I pleaded with God to free me. I mean, just scan the book of Proverbs and you’ll pick up on the fact that being a nagging wife is like a death sentence.

Thankfully, God was quick to offer a strategy. He revealed to me a 3-month secret mission and basically called it: Let Him Go. The process was rather simple. Basically, for the remainder of 2008, God advised that I not mention – and eventually not even notice – quirks, idiosyncrasies, and mere humanness that I would have previously attacked. At first, I had to literally bite my tongue, grit my teeth, and escape into the bathroom to say out loud, “I will not say anything about Quirk X!” (Can a person do all of those things at the same time?)

Of course, the big wonderful outcome is that after a while, I really did stop treating Ryan with such criticism. Even better, about two months into my secret mission, I began feeling a deeper love for him – a new affection that I hadn’t felt before. Quite honestly, I can’t even recall most of the things that would have provoked my “advice” just four months ago. In other words, as it turns out, the quirks and idiosyncrasies were mine and not his all along.

At the risk of a sappy conclusion, the truth is that, when I stopped “improving” my husband, I was left with two arms to receive him and just… well, love him.

I’ve been waiting to write about the glorious pay-offs for weeks now, but wanted to live it out a little while so that I could unabashedly recommend Mission: Let Him Go. Wanna try it for 3 months and see where it takes you? Remember: no criticism, no improving, no nothin’.

As for me, I’ve decided to increase the 3-month time-line to 3 years to 30 years to “as long as we both shall live”.

I’ve got a long way to go, but I like the pay-offs so well that I think I’m hooked.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Enjoy Patty’s song if you’d like:

“Let Him Fly”

Ain’t no talkin to this man
Ain’t no pretty other side
Ain’t no way to understand the stupid words of pride
It would take an acrobat, and I already tried all that so
I’m gonna let him fly

Things can move at such a pace
The second hand just waved goodbye
You know the light has left his face
But you can’t recall just where or why

So there was really nothing to it
I just went and cut right through it
I said I’m gonna let him fly

There’s no mercy in a live wire
No rest at all in freedom
Of the choices we are given it’s no choice at all
The proof is in the fire
You touch before it moves away
But you must always know how long to stay and when to go

And there ain’t no talkin to this man
He’s been tryin to tell me so
It took awhile to understand the beauty of just letting go
Cause it would take an acrobat, I already tried all that
I’m gonna let him fly
I’m gonna let him fly
I’m gonna let him fly







4 responses to “Let Him Fly”

  1. erin marie Avatar
    erin marie

    haha.. I just got a visual of a flying Ryan with toilet paper stuck on the bottom of his shoe.
    (j/k,lol, he,he,he,…and all that jazz.)

  2. Jan Avatar

    Ouch – this hits home! Jonathan once typed out Proverbs 21:9 (Better to live on the roof than share the house with a nagging wife.) and taped it to the refrigerator….I actually left it there for a couple of years, much to the amusement of friends and family!

    It’s true, I would never criticize anyone else about how they load the dishwaher or don’t close their drawers all the way…who cares, how hard is it for me to do those things if “his way” bugs me. This is a good reminder to just LET IT GO!

    You are too funny “no one likes that girl” LOL!

  3. Jenny Avatar

    WEll–I got the advice I needed. I was going to call you yesterday…and I have a feeling that what you wrote would have slain my spirit right in it’s tracks!

    Oh, I can be so grumbly…and naggy.

    I will let him fly…

  4. sarah anastasi Avatar
    sarah anastasi

    Vince once said to me early on, contrary to his very mild mannered persona, “I didn’t want to marry my mom.” Ugh. I should have learned then and there, but it took a long time for that lesson to really hit home in our lives. What I found most amazing once I took the challenge was 1) I was also free, free to finally, truly and deeply love and enjoy my guy as never before – wow, who woulda thought! 2) I made the huge realization that my “letting go” was what freed him to surge and become that man of God he was intended to be. All along my nagging (which I thought would shape him!) was holding him back. It was my words of encouragment that were giving him wings. Cool stuff. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s so vital we remind one another!

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