Sometimes, it’s not what we need to learn next—it’s what we need to unlearn next.
I’m in a season in life where almost everything God places in front of me either directly challenges or outright contradicts something I thought I already knew. So, I’m not learning. I’m unlearning.
Learning is an endless mountain climb. We fix our eyes firmly (and only) on a peak someone else has already scaled even if it’s not the destination we planned for ourselves. The ascent can sometimes feel so much like victory we don’t realize we’re fighting to catch our breath while methodically navigating the incline, one arduous, painful step at a time.
Unlearning feels rebellious and raw, leaving us breathless in an entirely different way.
Suddenly, we’re children again, uninhibited and full of wonder. We release control and allow ourselves to tumble forward, bumping and rolling down a giant, grassy mound that leads us away from what we once believed with no predetermined destination, end game, or finish line.
Too often, I choose the tedious comfort of the uphill ascent over the exhilaration of the downhill tumble. For decades, I learned like an anxious knitter who only pulled out her needles to follow someone else’s pattern, mindlessly adding full rows of tight, meticulous, even stitches.
Now I know that unlearning is intentionally yanking on the errant threads, forcing the sweater to unravel completely, certain you’ll use the yarn again to create an entirely new garment altogether—this time of your own design.
There’s magic in the unraveling.
The unraveling is where we find the strength to leave behind our inherent aversion to saying no and setting boundaries. It’s where we replace, ever so slowly, our own negative internal dialogues, and finally set aside the misguided belief that our dreams have an expiration date. It’s where we discover that we were not created to be all things to all people and permit ourselves to step back from relationships that demand us to be.
The unraveling challenges us to redefine everything we know about grace and forgiveness and closure and healing. It releases us from self-imposed limitations and incessant consultations with fear before making our final decisions. It’s where we finally see with clarity how little we actually control, slowly unclenching our cramped, white-knuckled fists to watch what happens when we simply allow life to unfurl with hands, arms, minds, and hearts completely wide open.
Most importantly, the unraveling frees us from a lifetime of shoulds, have-tos, and supposed-tos, delivering us fully back to ourselves, a better, more authentic version of who God created us to be.
Originally published on the author’s blog