The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Letting go

We're called to surrender to the grace of God

The early Christian desert fathers and desert mothers taught that the “way” of Jesus is a path of subtraction more than addition. They strove mightily to become loving, forgiving, kind and compassionate. But they also dropped those things that brought them down or served as a distraction from their surrender to God. They knew how to let go.

Thomas a Kempis, in the spiritual classic The Imitation of Christ (Bridge-Logos Publishers; 1999; available from www.amazon.com) from the 15th century, also advocated making a regular practice of letting go. “To sum up, dear friend of Mine, unclench your fists, and let everything fly out of your hands. Clean yourself up nicely and stay faithful to your Creator,” the monk wrote.

But how does this work out practically? Usually not without a great deal of intention, effort and patience with yourself.

Letting go of fixed ideas about the way things are or how people are supposed to behave is one step, and it’s not easy. Take some cherished idea of yours and try to change it: You will see that the resistance is very strong. The mind likes the security that comes with long-held ideas.

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