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Scraping the Barnacles


I’ve decided to let go of anxiety-builders. Those things that keep me up at night. There are the simple ones— money, family, education— and those likely won’t go away. But then there is layer after layer of crusty theological ones, soul-threatening ones, like barnacles on a dock, building up while also wearing down. Who am I offending with my social justice lens on the gospel? Who has labeled me today, and how will that impact our relationship? How will this Christ-centered orthodox woman anger her family today? Who hates my perspective of creation, of hell, of women in ministry? Who hates my love of liturgical practices, or my belief that inner reflection, soul-care, are crucial to following Jesus?

These chains, the parasitical weight that I carry around? It turns out it’s my choice to let go of them. Whales practice breaching— a behemoth belly-flop— to remove barnacles from their thick skin. Throwing itself up, out of the water, and slapping down into it, the power of the water hitting the whale, acting like a pressure washer.

I know I’m supposed to write about what I have let go of. But the truth is, I haven’t let go enough. It’s painful, the skin-scraping that has to happen. But I’m committed to it, to removing the barnacles.

Because the days I’m successful? They are the most joyful. They are the days where God’s grace is the easiest to see. They are the days when it’s easy— cool water over smooth rocks easy— to love everyone.

I want more of those days, the-fullness-of-beauty-creating-thin-places days. And I realize that those days require me to let go, to walk into them without my cinderblocks, without the anxiety-builders.

This post is part of a May Synchroblog, the topic being “Unfurling.” Read some of the other posts below:

20 Comments leave one →
  1. 05/10/2011 5:10 pm

    Good for you! Worrying about all those things can be so life-controlling. Thanks! 🙂

  2. 05/11/2011 9:38 am

    Good days… and bad days… I understand that. Letting go is an everyday thing.


  3. 05/11/2011 11:54 am

    yes, the skin scraping is so painful. And it seems that more needs to get scraped off before the previous scraping has even scabbed over. Sometimes, you just want to say, “God! Let me heal first from the last scrape!”

    Thanks for the post!

    • 05/11/2011 3:41 pm

      I’ve done the whole belly flop thing and it is not pretty… 🙂 Thanks for this post,

  4. 05/13/2011 1:30 pm

    Ah yes, the chains we all carry around. Sometimes, it’s empowering (and scary) to remember that the choice to carry them around is indeed a choice.

  5. 05/13/2011 9:53 pm

    thank you ryan, for this, you always write so beautifully and share your heart so deeply. .somehow i can “hear” what scraping the barnacles sounds like. i am grateful for your voice and courage.

    • Ryan permalink*
      05/14/2011 4:59 pm

      Thanks all for reading. Even as I’ve been more intentional about this over the past week or so, I find there’s more and more peace. To be sure, Jeremy– it hurts and there are times when you want to heal from the first wound/the first skin scraping before others come along. I have encountered that this week too. But I’m enjoying the journey.


  1. letting God off the hook « the carnival in my head.
  2. Link List: May 2011 Synchroblog – Life Unfurling « synchroblog
  3. What do you do when you are not sure? « Grace Rules Weblog
  4. Letting go of the Holy me… | indiefaith
  5. Life Unfurling – May Synchroblog « Godspace
  6. Help! I’m Lost and I Can’t Find Myself!
  7. What is passed over is not love | Finding Ground
  8. Where did I go? (May Synchroblog) | The Assembling of the Church
  9. Embracing the Grey | Wendy McCaig
  10. Breath « Minnowspeaks Weblog
  11. What You Get From Giving: The Paradox of Generosity | Goins, Writer
  12. Breaking from the Chains « A New Vision
  13. Leap of Faith « A New Vision

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