Freedom is not easy; it has its price. Part of that price is the willingness to hold life with a light touch. What this means in practical terms is that I don’t try to force my will on a situation, a possession, or a relationship. In theological terms, this sort of freedom is achieved when we are able to pray, in all honesty, “God’s will be done.”
It’s tricky, though, to practice this kind of detachment while honoring our God-given desires. In following our desires, we’re prone to imagine exactly what we want and how we want it. But if we push too hard toward a specific vision, we may miss the actual gift that comes to us.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer, author of Random MOMents of Grace, learns a lot about her own expectations as a mother of two small children. The subtitle of chapter 2 says it all: “Praying as I Can, Not as I Can’t”:
So for the first few years of my life as a mom, I more or less threw in the towel when it came to formal prayer. I got by on something else, something a spiritual director once called “opportunistic spirituality.” At random moments throughout the day, I’d take a moment to ping God a little message. Hey there. How are you? I’m here, doing fine. Just saying Hi. That was about the sum of it: a quick check-in, a spiritual text message to the Creator. And I found that there was something freeing about this kind of prayer. I could do it anytime, anywhere—while changing a noxious diaper, driving to work, or shaving my legs. There was nothing dramatic about it, but it was helpful because it meant I could integrate God into my normal routine without breaking my step. Prayer became more reflexive, more instinctive, less an event than a way of being. It validated a favorite quotation of mine, from the English abbot John Chapman: “Pray as you can, not as you can’t.”
This new practice was nice, and it helped. I was taking quick, frequent sips at the well of prayer, instead of long, slow drinks. I missed the luxurious gulps, I really did, but at least I was staying hydrated.
- What expectations have you had to release from an iron grip? How did that go?
- How do you know when you need to hold your life more lightly? What are your spiritual symptoms of holding on too tightly?