Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble shares how the beginning of her time on mission in Bolivia has challenged her to let go of anxieties and the desire to be in control. Through this process, she is discovering great freedom.
Lent is one of my favorite times of the year. Even though it is often a time of testing yourself by giving something up that you enjoy, I like it because it’s a way to bring you closer to God.
It never fails that this time of testing yourself – of letting go – teaches me that I can learn to live without something that I previously thought I couldn’t. Sometimes I even find that I feel freer without that thing. It reminds me that letting go of something – even something you like, something you don’t think is bad for you – can be liberating, and might even bring you that much closer to God.
My first few days of being on mission have shown me the importance of letting go. I am a pretty anxious person in general – I like being in control of things and knowing what is coming next. That is definitely something that I have to let go of. I have to let go of my anxieties, of being in control, and of knowing what is coming next. I have to “let go and let God.”
This “letting go” that I am practicing reminds me a lot of the Ignatian spirituality of detachment.
Detachment means letting go of whatever keeps you from being free. It helps to prevent you from becoming tied down by unimportant things.
While we talked about being detached during my formation with Franciscan Mission Service, I first came across this concept while reading The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin, SJ.
He describes detachment as indifference. Not indifference as in being uninterested, but rather as in being free – being able to approach a decision-making process as freely as possible. It means leaving yourself free and open to experience the workings of God in your life.
Practicing interior detachment helps me not start down paths that lead me away from God. The path of constant worry and anxiety and desire to be in control of everything is definitely a path that leads further and further from God.
Instead, I try to focus on finding God in all things. I’m not saying this is easy, especially when I’m feeling anxious. But I know that it is most important to seek God in everything when I’m at my most anxious state. It is in seeking for God and His will that I find that I do desire to “let go” of all those anxieties and worries. And letting go helps to move me closer to God.
Whenever you start to miss that something that you gave up for Lent this year, I would invite you to focus on practicing detachment from it and offer those moments up to God. I will be with you in solidarity from Bolivia!
Reflection Question: If you do decide to give something up for Lent, how can you be intentional about this sacrifice? How can you make the experience more prayerful instead of giving something up just to give it up?