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Nail or Straw, What are Yours?

We’ve all heard the saying, “the nail in the coffin and the straw that broke the camel’s back.” And if you haven’t heard these sayings, they essentially mean that was the thing that ended it all, closed the chapter, and called it quits. The thing that finally made the person let go. The nail or the straw is different for every person. What shuts the coffin for one person may just be another hurdle for another person. What breaks the camel’s back for one person may just be another haystack to search through for someone else. Everyone’s breaking point is different. Everyone has a different amount of resilience and perseverance. Each person has their own reserve to push harder.


The struggle is some of us don’t know what our nail is, we have no idea when the camel’s back is broken, we can’t gauge our reserve, and we continue to push beyond the point of pushing. This usually results in devastation. What could have been a potential fix, a not now, but later, or a save is now a full-out disaster? The camel could’ve had surgery, rested, and been back on its feet; instead, it may never walk again. The coffin was nailed shut, but it wasn’t buried.


Understanding, learning, and accepting your level of resilience, perseverance, and knowing when to let go are critical parts of growing as a person, especially if you are trying to do something outside of your comfort zone or more significant than you. For me, that significant thing is raising a family and growing a business. In this journey, I’ve had to set clear mile markers to let me know I am on the right path. I’ve had to establish what my nuggets from God were and how I would recognize them and know that was a nudge to keep going. And, I have had to be clear on my nails and straws, the things that would signal me that it was time to let go.
For some people letting go feels like giving up hope, but it’s quite the contrary. Letting go is not only having more hope, but it also consists of having faith. Letting go is releasing power and control to an unknown and believing everything will be okay. Things will work out exactly how they should. Letting go is relinquishing the idea that we can make things happen, and doing this one more thing could shift the outcome. Letting go is hoping for a miracle while accepting whatever comes and knowing it will be okay. Letting go is preparation for the unknown.


Part of nothing changes, but everything, is understanding that things are going to be how they should. Nothing can change that. Accepting this is everything.


Here’s an example. We should work out, eat healthily, drink water, and be good to our bodies because doing these things can help us “try” to prolong our lives and live better lives. We can do everything in our control to aid this and try to make this reality, but in the end, we will all die; this doesn’t change. Accepting this reality is everything. There will come a time when we must let go and accept this reality. We won’t be able to do anything to reverse the clock, to stop the inevitable, and trying to do so will cause more harm than good. Knowing when that moment is, is knowing what the nail or straw is.


For me, there is a level of peace and empowerment in letting go. In some ways, it relieves the stress of feeling like I have to do something. Instead, I am passing the ball to God to the Universe. I am saying I have done all I can do. It’s your turn, do or do not do. This is a team sport, and I have gotten the team as far as possible. I feel this is also true in reverse. Sometimes God says I have done all I can do the ball is in your court now, do or do not do. And on the flip side, God can say okay, we have come as far as we are going to go; it’s time to exit stage left. We played a good game, now bow out gracefully. The nail.


The key to making real change and real progress is recognizing when these things are present. The next time you start a project or journey, create a list of nails for yourself. Give yourself permission to say if these things happen and my R&P (resilience and perseverance) tank is low or empty, I’m calling it. I am letting go and giving it to The Universe, and The Universe can either do or not do. Set markers on what a low R&P tank feels and looks like so you can recognize those feelings if and when they appear. Provide yourself with a let go plan. What will letting go look like? How will you let go? How long will you give yourself to fully let go? Then write your expectations from The Universe. How will you know God is doing? What will it look like, feel like? What will you do if God does, and what will you do if God doesn’t. Then have faith and hope, start your project and let go of the rest.


Once you have this plan, you can begin your new journey with a sense of security, knowing that you have a plan. Knowing that you are fully equipped to conquer whatever lies ahead.

carry on.

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