I was helping Carol with her sermon on forgiveness this week and came across the concept of being caught in a Monkey Trap.
I guess I never thought to consider how you catch a monkey, but it's pretty ingenious in its simplicity.
Here's what the monkey trappers do….
Step 1: Go to where monkeys hang out. (pretty obvious)
Step 2: Put a banana or peanuts or some other bait into a hollow coconut with a small paw-sized hole in it.
Step 3: Tie the coconut to a rope.
Step 4: Tie the rope to a stake in the ground.
Step 5: Watch the monkey jump from the tree and stuff its fist into the coconut to grab the banana.
Step 6: Watch the monkey's hand get trapped because his hand won't come out while he holds the banana in his fist.
Step 7: Catch the monkey!
Now before we start laughing about how these primates have been tricked, we should consider the things that we are 'holding on to' that no longer make sense. What things are we holding on to emotionally? What are we holding onto tightly even though they are trapping us in a painful situation?
One of the great challenges of being human is letting go of the emotions that no longer serve us in a positive way. All of us have experienced emotional hurt at some point. It's a natural part of our existence, but past pains can hold us back from present and future happiness.
Does it make sense to 'hold on to' feelings of betrayal, anger, resentment, frustration or emotional upset? What would happen to we let go of our 'emotional peanuts'?
What relationships would be healed? Who could we finally forgive? Or maybe the person we need to forgive is ourself. What impact would unconditionally forgiving ourselves for all our mishaps have upon our life?
The only way the monkey can become free is to let go; to let go of what he’s holding and pull his hand out of the hole in the coconut. Until he lets go of what he’s holding, he will be trapped.
Likewise with you and me, the only way we become free of the pain we have experienced... the deep pain, the prolonged pain, the repeated pain... the only way we ever become free is to let go.
Or we can choose to keep holding on to the things that trap us. We can choose to give up our freedom while grasping at something serves only to trap us.
It may sound like a bunch of monkey business, but the choice is ours.