I’ve heard it said, there‘s a very unique way to catch a monkey. The story is that you place a banana or other food item in the basket and anchor it to a tree. The basket or jar has an opening that is only big enough for the monkey to put his hand into, and then when he reaches in and grabs the item he cannot pull his fist out because it is too big to fit through the opening—in which case you can easily grab the monkey.

The problem, of course, is that the monkey is not really trapped. All he has to do is let go of the item and pull his hand out. Rather, the true trap is in the monkey’s mind, possibly because of his unwillingness to let go of the item, or his inability to connect with the fact that his hand isn’t really stuck at all.

Where in my life am I trapped?

The story of the monkey made me ask myself, “Where in my life am I like a monkey?” What are the ways I am trapped because I refuse to let go of something?” One of the first things that popped into my mind were some clothes that I’ve held onto for various reasons. In some cases they don’t fit anymore…but I’ve told myself I will lose the necessary inches to get back into them…someday. It’s time once again to clean the closet and let go of some clothes.

I also thought of the dismantled pool table I’ve had in the back of my shop. It’s been there a few years because I have no room in my home to set it up—and probably really never will. But then I hold onto it because I have memories attached to it, and because it is valuable and I won’t get enough from selling it. But in reality how valuable can something be if it’s not being used and is only collecting dust? The fact is that it is adding no value to my life. So I decides I need to sell it, find a friend that can use it, or donate to a good cause. But no matter what, it’s time for this, too, to go.

The worst traps are traps of the mind

I feel like I’m on a roll now and then it hits me. What are the things am I holding onto in my mind? Things like past relationships, past hurts, past offenses. Resentments, unforgiveness, and bitterness are some of the worst kinds of traps, things that definitely cause us to get stuck like a monkey with his hand in the jar, frozen to the tree and unable to move on. The Apostle Paul gave the key to freedom.

Philippians 3:13-14 NIV

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Like that silly little monkey, whether it be a prison cell or the hand in the jar, I am only trapped when I refuse to let go of the past and move forward, embracing the future.

Take Away

Take a good look at your life and learn to let go of those things that are trapping you.