With the first signs of Spring blossoming around us, it’s a good time to focus on our Spiritual Spring Cleaning. This week on our Lenten journey, we take stock of the thoughts that no longer serve us. And we let them go.
Letting go helps our spiritual growth by clearing the obstacles to loving more fully. Letting go is not the same as suppression or denial. It's about distinguishing between what is real and what we’ve made up. It is mindfully choosing how and when we allow certain thoughts to take our attention. (Planning your future is usually more successful when not also trying to fall asleep.)
In our ongoing quest to love like Jesus, how can we let go of the thoughts, fears, assumptions, expectations and anger to which we attach?
Sometimes our bodies reveal the stress our conscious mind can’t acknowledge. Do you hold your breath? Is your jaw clenched? Are your shoulders raised toward your ears? Is there a pit in your stomach? Are your legs restless? Just as it signals stress, our bodies can provide the map back to a place of clarity. Just focusing on your breath can help you let go. Give yourself a structure to do this. Set a timer, if you like. Start with 3 minutes. Close your eyes and breathe.
Try to consciously identify the source of your stress. Is the thing that worries you beyond your power? Do you still insist on trying to do something about it? When we let go, we place our trust in God. We recognize that God has a master plan that may or may not involve us getting what we want. When we surrender to God’s will, we hand over our worry and free ourselves of the attachments that interfere with our spiritual growth.
How do we loosen the grip of anger in order to forgive? Resentment persists when we believe in one side of the story- ours. If we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, if we empathize, we can rewrite the story in a way that invites forgiveness. None of us is perfect. Most of us want to do our best. Can you forgive others their missteps, even when it has caused you pain? Can you forgive yourself?
Letting go is a natural part of a healthy spiritual life. As we age, we begin to unwind our attachments to all the things we have acquired. Our kids leave home. We retire. We move into new homes so we can be cared for. We say goodbye to the loved ones that pass. We let go of more and more until we finally experience everlasting freedom in the Kingdom of Heaven.