Life has determined it may be time to let go of some things, and rather than viewing it resistantly as an unpleasantry, I am choosing to view it as an opportunity. An opportunity to reevaluate in life the objects, dreams, and entitlements (like how I spend my time or money) that I am choosing to fill my well of desires. An opportunity to look at what has a hold on me and go deep to identify why I hold onto the dreams, objects, or entitlements that I have. What do I “get” from those things? What “need” in me do they fulfill?
In the language of spiritual formation, it is a process called evaluating for disordered affections or disordered attachments. (Note: this is not to be confused with the psychology concept of attachment theory). The specific concept of disordered affections or attachments has it’s root in Ignatian Spirituality. In my Protestant understanding of this concept, we are all controlled by our affections / attachments; basically, by what we love (power, things, goals, relationships, happiness…) and if our love is not rooted in who God has created us to be, we will pursue things that lead us away from what we were created for and not towards it.
I love how this Conversations Journal article entitled “Simplicity: An Internal Stance of the Heart” by Larry Warner captures it:
“Often our hearts are so filled with disordered attachments that things like love, service, even the simple enjoyment of the things of life are buried under the oppressive weight caused by unceasing pursuit of those things we believe our happiness are contingent on having, keeping or not getting.”
So, as life has initiated a process in me where just about everything needs to be held with an open hand: my dreams, my possessions, my time, my entitlements… it will become very clear to me what desires have a disordered hold on me based on where I experience the most resistance towards the possibility of its release.
I’m not sure what the process will look like in the end, it could be radical – like an entire shift in career – or it could be just a few barely noticeable changes here and there – like taking a couple books to Goodwill. I am certain it will grow me though.
What about you? Have you had to let go of possessions, dreams, entitlements? I’d love to hear about it!