The grace of indifference or detachment is often what we hope for in prayer. It is the place where we have surrendered to God the outcome of our hopes, fears, and worries, and we trust God enough that no matter what happens, “God’s grace will be enough for me.”
Detachment is not always a gift I like receiving in prayer, at first. Intellectually, I understand that detachment or indifference can be a fruit of prayer. Intellectually, I also know that it is an important component to the Spiritual Exercises. If I am frank, though, detachment can occasionally be one scary place.
For the past year, my husband and I have been discerning our future steps after my husband’s graduate degree was complete. The choice was between relocating to one of two cities. The process of discernment was arduous due to a rather crazy day-to-day rhythm of life, which impacted my ability to find stillness in prayer, and because we felt we were choosing between two goods.
At one point this spring, about eight months into this discernment process, I shared with a friend that I was struggling to find peace about this decision. I told her, “We have learned all we can about both cities. We have prayed about this for months, and I no longer feel pulled strongly to either city. It’s driving me crazy! Why won’t God give me the answer?”
She gently smiled and chuckled and said to me, “Struggling a bit with the grace of detachment?”
That’s when it hit me. For months, I asked for God’s strength, enlightenment, comfort, and guidance in making this decision. Little by little God brought me to a point where I knew that no matter what city it was, I would be at peace. I was detached from the outcome.
I stood still for a moment as both fear and relief washed over me at this realization. The choice was now in our hands. We had discerned all we could with the help of friends and spiritual directors. We had gathered every piece of information we could about both cities. When we looked at the cities side by side and when we compared our pro and con lists, we knew that either city would work.
What does St. Ignatius say to do at this point? Make a decision! Act! And test the fruits of the decision along the way. So that’s what we did and are doing, and while it is still scary at times, it is invigorating to be free to make a decision. Making this decision brought inner freedom only found through God. This place of detachment is a grace-filled place that, despite the fear that can accompany it, brings deep peace and trust in God.
Thank you, Becky, this is exactly what I needed when I needed it. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, even though you actually wrote this back in June of 2012, I have just recently come across it by the Grace of God, I’m certain.
Starting from this past week I have been struggling and spent sleepless nights to work my school assignment. Trying to do it all by myself had made me realize that it is almost impossible. So I sometimes pray and surrender it all to God and I really feel peace move forward with my work but that lurking fear doesn’t take time to take away my peace. The struggle then becomes between trying to do it all by myself and giving it up to God. It is like ‘no wait, I got to try this myself…I can do it.’ I say we always need to get detached from whatever we are doing or have, for that matter. Thanks for the on time reminder!
I often wonder how to detach to a thing i wanted to do or make. All my decisions in planning to get a thing is done by my own means alone, yet in the end, some yields nothing and the fruit only begot sour grief yet to some also begot good.
Now I see, all those plans that bring us closer to God yields peace and joy to our family, harmony and understanding, but those that comes from bad fruit, bring disunity and trouble. Now I know how to be detach to all things and follow God… In my experience, it has only being fruitful when I have surrendered a situation to God.
Thanks to this grace-filled post Becky.
Thanks for this inspiring sharing from you, Becky. When we are detached or indifferent (holy indifference), discernment comes easy as the SPEX teaches us.
Becky, you make so many statements that really hit home for me as I try to embrace the grace of detachment in my own life. In my experience, it has only been when I have surrendered a situation to God that the decision is made clear and I am able to have peace. But, as you have said, fear can accompany this and I think it is important for us to remember that. Thanks very much for sharing this as it is very helpful.