being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
What’s your Nekatla?
I am one of privileged few who can say that Alaska was my home for a time. You would never know it by the way I speak of Alaska now, but I did NOT want to move there. But after while, I grew to love the people who live in and the place that is called the Last Frontier. God’s kind of funny like that because I never think I’m going to like the geographical location he’s going to take me (and now my family), but in the end, I always end up leaving a piece of my heart there. Such is the case with Alaska.
I didn’t live in the wilderness, and, before you ask, I never met Sarah Palin. I lived near Anchorage, the state’s most populated city. But Alaska’s beauty (both in its nature and the people who live there) will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Mount Susitna lies on the West Bank of the Susitna River and can be seen across the Knik Arm from Anchorage, where I snapped this picture on one of my few salmon fishing expeditions.
The locals call it Sleeping Lady. If you look closely, you can see what looks like the silhouette of a woman as she’s lying down. There are very many different versions of the legend of the Sleeping Lady. Here’s one version of the legend, if you wish to read it.
Essentially, the legend is this: Alaska used to be inhabited by giants. A man, Nekatla, and a woman, Susitna, were to be married. However, on the eve of their wedding, war breaks out and Nekatla wants to try to offer a peace treaty (because we all know how well that works out). He and the other men go to try to stop the warriors from coming to destroy their village. Susitna waits for days and days, looking out on the river, hoping for her love to return. She lies down to rest while waiting for him. While she is sleeping, news comes back that the peace treaty didn’t work (surprise, surprise) and that Nekatla was killed. The women choose not to wake Susitna from her restful sleep, figuring it would be better to let her rest than wake her with bad news. She never wakes up. The story says that when the people of the world choose peace over war, she will rise.
Some say that no such story exists among the tribal communities. Regardless of its origins, it makes for a nice story for children. It also embodies the essence of a legend, a fairy tale, something that is impossible and will never happen. It kind of has a “We are the World” feel to it, don’t ya think?
So why am I talking about some mountain with a legend thousands and thousands of miles away? One because I miss Alaska right now (shout out to my Alaska peeps – What?!). Two, because I’m thinking about the Nekatlas in life.
A Nekatla is that thing in your life that is keeping you from truly living. The if onlys, if you will. “If only I had done things differently in that relationship, he/she might have stuck around.” “If only I had tried harder, life would be different now.” “If only I had made this choice instead of that choice, I wouldn’t be in this mess right now.” It’s all those things you wish you wouldn’t have done, shouldn’t have said, couldn’t let go. They are the times in our life, that when remembered, drag us down and make us feel like failures. And though life pushes forward, Nekatlas keep us stuck in that past failure.
I’m no stranger to Nekatlas. In fact, the last year and a half of my life has been spent dwelling on a certain Nekatla. I wonder what I could have done differently to have better results, for myself, my family, and everyone involved. But this particular Nekatla is what it is, and I can’t change it. It happened. It’s over. I can’t just lie down and wonder about the “if onlys” without it being toxic to my present and future. I can’t let it paralyze me and numb me from experiencing what’s so promising now. I have to choose to wake up and realize that this Nekatla is gone. I have to choose to get on with my life. If I don’t, I’m going to miss out on so much.
What about you? What is your Nekatla? Is there something holding you back from truly living in the now, enjoying everything the present has to offer you? Did you fail to see the sunrise that marked a new dawn in your life? Are you going to let yourself wake up and realize that your Nekatla is long gone and it’s time for a fresh start? Maybe your Nekatla is a person. Maybe it’s a place or a time period in your life. Maybe it’s a one-time incident, a word spoken in anger that forever changed the relationship. Maybe it’s a series of mistakes that led you down a terrible road and you feel that you just can’t find your way back.
Your Nekatla may have been important in your life at some point. It may still be important to you. It may have had irreparable consequences. But no matter what it is, your Nekatla doesn’t have to define you. You don’t have to spend your life waiting for the Nekatla to resolve itself. You don’t have to fall asleep to the life that is going on all around you. Let yourself wake up. Because things are never going to be perfect or the “way they were.” There’s just today. There’s just now. And letting yourself wake up and let go of your Nekatla is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Incredible things happen after you wake up and let go of your Nekatla. Reconciliation can happen. Forgiveness can happen. Living can start to happen. But you have to wake up first. You have to see your Nekatla for what it is: something in your past that hinders your right to living a full life.
What has bound you for far too long? Maybe it’s an addiction. Maybe it’s a controlling relationship. Maybe it’s a fear of failure. Maybe it’s a mistake. Maybe it’s a secret that you’ve kept from everyone and just can’t bear to keep it hidden any longer. I don’t know what it is. But we all have them, whether we realize it or not.
I’m here to tell you that your Nekatla, whatever it is, does not have to keep you sleeping forever. I’m here to tell you that there is life beyond it. I’m here to tell you that you can be free from it.
You see, dear reader, that even before you began reading this post, I have been praying for you. I prayed that your eyes and heart will be open, that you’ll be able to recognize your Nekatla, and that God would give you the strength to let it go. I’ve been praying that God would give you the wisdom to run to him and let his grace be sufficient enough to fill the hole that your Nekatla leaves. I’ve been praying that you can be free from it, that you can move on, and that you can really start living again.
Because, as I’ve recently discovered, his grace is the only way we can let our Nekatlas go. His grace is the only thing that can let us wake up from our slumber and see that there is much more to be had in this life than our Nekatlas.
So, what is your Nekatla? Will you share it, even if you share anonymously? Will you be brave enough to let your Nekatla out in the open, and let it go? Perhaps you’re not the only one struggling. Perhaps someone else needs to hear your story. Perhaps you just need to get it off your chest. Whatever it is, share it. Get it out. Let it go.
Great things happen when we say goodbye. Healing begins when we give it up. Unimaginable things happen when we wake up. There’s life to be had. Don’t let it pass you by just because you can’t let go of your Nekatla.