AFD in NYC Episode 4: Letting Go of Fear (and some other things)

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At a lot of the subway stops, when you exit the train, there are multiple stairways out of the station that take the crowds of commuters back up to fresh air and the big city. I’ve worked hard to figure out a lot of things about riding the subway, like which train goes where I want to go and which stations are closest to my home, but I’ve decided to let go of one part. I just. Can’t. care.

(If you are new to this podcast or this series, hi I’m Annie. I usually live in Nashville, but until December, I’m living in New York City. This is the fourth episode in this series AFD in NYC. The first three are linked in the show notes below.)

So when you exit the subway, the sign above your head will tell you which corner you are exiting towards. 57th and Broadway, SW corner, 58th and Broadway, NE corner. So here’s what I’ve decided to let go of- going out the right exit.

Because all that happens when I get to the surface, if I’m on SOUTHWEST corner instead of NORTHEAST corner, is I’ll just need an extra 4 minutes to cross the street and get right where I need to go. Figuring out the exact right exit is something I’m letting go. It doesn’t matter enough that it should take up brain space.

I’ve lived here a few weeks now, and I’ve gotten to the point where I think I know the majority of things I HAVE to pay attention to and I HAVE to do exactly right (like locking my door and meeting my friends where they say to meet up and showing up to Broadway shows 10 minutes before they starts), and I know some details I can let go of now, too.

And certainly, getting out the exact right exit of the subway is a good thing to let go of. I need to be on the right train going the right direction and get off at the right stop, but I don’t have to go out THE right exit.

I can let that go. I have let it go.

I’m beginning to wonder if part of this season is teaching me what to let go of as much as what to hold tightly? (Well, at least it didn’t take me until the end of this essay to realize we’re talking about my control issues again.)

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I woke up in the middle of the night last night, convinced I was unsafe in my home. At 3am, I was working through all the ways this one story that happened probably went wrong, and it was probably my fault and I was in danger because of it.

Let me explain.

I had someone come and clean my apartment last week, a reputable company with good reviews online that came recommended. For some reason, the charge for the cleaning didn’t clear on my credit card that day. It didn’t clear the next day. Or the next. 

And while anxiety and fear aren’t my usual go to feelings, I suddenly got very scared. I’ve been scared for days that I was scammed, that somehow they were casing my house and deciding how much a ransom would be worth for my safe return. I imagined, at 3am, that the website for the company was totally made up and the whole thing was fake just to steal, kill, and destroy. 

So at 3am, I prayed with my out-loud voice. I prayed against fear, in the name of Jesus. I reminded anyone listening which spirit was welcome in my home (the Holy Spirit) and which wasn’t (all the rest, particularly fear). I prayed the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

I said out loud, “I’m letting go of this fear.”

This morning, I called the cleaning company again, talked to the kind lady who scheduled it for me in the first place, and she explained their charging system and how it’s delayed a few days. She even laughed at me a bit and said, “no one’s really ever called us to ask why they haven’t been charged.”


Praying changed things last night. Choosing to let go of the fear changed things. 

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There is a bagel shop about seven blocks up from me that has really good YELP reviews. It’s new and trendy and looks awesome. There is also an old school bagel place just two blocks down from me. I’ve been there a few times already, I really love it. But I was trying last week, on my bagel day, to try somewhere new.

(Okay, my bagel day. See, gluten doesn’t make me feel great, so I have told myself just to be smart and limit how many bagels I pursue. So I pick a day a week, usually my Sabbath, to be my bagel day. That way, since gluten usually makes me fall asleep like a tranquilized bear cub, I can take a nap, no harm no foul. Also, no real bagel rules. If I want one every day, I can. I’m just trying to keep my energy high and my body happy!)

I walked up to the cool bagel place, and didn’t see the breakfast sandwich kind of thing I wanted, but I saw a similar sandwich. When I asked if they would put it on a bagel instead of bread, she said no. okayyyy… I shifted tactics and asked for raisin and walnut cream cheese. They didn’t have that either. So I walked out. I said thank you, and let go of the new place.

I walked my tail feathers right back to the place I loved and got a breakfast sandwich on an everything bagel AND a cinnamon raisin bagel with walnut raisin cream cheese because I needed them both after talking about them behind their backs and walking 15 blocks.

So I let go of the need for a NEW EXPERIENCE and decided just to trust what I know.

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I’m also letting go of some HARD yeses and HARD nos I made before I left home. Not hard like challenging, I mean hard like metal, solid, decided. I sat with a friend this weekend and she said, “why have you closed yourself off to that possibility?”, a particular situation she was asking me about. I hummed and hawed around it, around why it had to be a NO right now, and she said, “I wish you’d open your hands and your heart.”

She asked me to let go.

Let go of the assurances I have that I understand what is going on here- in my work life, in my New York life, in my Nashville life, in my love life.

Let go of the plans I have made and the way I have absolutely written the rest of this story myself. 

Let go of every way that I am trying to control my future.

Honestly? Of the three stories I’ve told you today, this is the hardest thing to let go of. It feels like opening pandora’s box. (Which is a saying I don’t totally understand but I remember it from Notting Hill. Anybody else?) Oh I just googled it, and yes- I’m right. It feels like opening pandora’s box to ask questions and work through some things and live with some mysteries that I have built some pretty impressive walls to protect myself from.

Letting go of the fear and anxiety in the middle of the night made room for what I really wanted- the fruits of the spirit.

Letting go of controlling this entire narrative arc of my life is also how I’m going to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

Letting go of the new bagel place means I get to trust what I do know to be true and good (and delicious).

Letting go of trying to handle this whole season means I can let go of that nagging question of if I’m going to be okay or not and trusting God with this story, knowing He is good and true. Relying on what I know.

Letting go of the subway exit means I may not end up where I thought. 

Letting go of my tight grip on my own story means I may not end up where I thought.

(Also, do me the hugest favor and don’t assume I’m moving to New York after these two months. I really really don’t think I am. And that’s not what this is about- it’s about how I’ve written, in my mind, how a bunch of scenarios are going to go for the rest of 2023 and 2024- including being here for sure, and I have to let that go.)

In a city where I have to pay attention all the time, where I am learning constantly, I’m also being invited by God to LET GO more than I expected. And it scares me a little. But I’m trying to let go of THAT too.

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What do you think? Please come share some thoughts and wisdom with me over on instagram- @thatsoundsfunpodcast. And I’ll see you tomorrow here on That Sounds Fun.

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NYTimes bestselling Christian author, speaker, and host of the That Sounds Fun Podcast, Annie F. Downs shares with you some of her favorite things: new books, faith conversations, entertainers not to miss, and interviews with friends.

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