The great joy of the release

Because each one of us experiences a life that is completely unique to us, it’s only natural that we would develop our own collection of perceptions, hurdles and reservations. Patrick Riecke, director, Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services, offers this potential resolution for the roadblocks that might be holding you back.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

You may recognize this statement. It’s found in the Christian gospel on the lips of Jesus in the moment before he dies on the Cross. These words bring me to a dichotomy I think is somewhat helpful. The idea that Jesus chose to release his own spirit is something I’ll come back to, but the distinction I want to make is one between clutching and trust.

Clutching is identified by:

  • Fear
  • A desire for control
  • Image management
  • Past pain
  • A worry about the future
  • Anger
  • Angst

Trust is identified by:

  • Hope
  • A release of control
  • A carefree attitude about our own image
  • Forgiveness of past pain
  • A confidence in the future
  • Joy
  • Peace

Can you choose to trust? Can you stop clutching?

Jesus’ life was his own, and it was his to let go of. But the fact is, long before he arrived at the Cross, Jesus had decided to give up that which was rightfully his.

What are you clutching? Is it rightfully yours? Is it your money? Your issue? Your job? Your family?

I remember being on a weekend spiritual retreat when I was a teenager. Part of the message was to “Let go and let God,” a phrase I still stumble over today. The leaders had us write on small rocks what it was that we needed to let go of. We did so, dutifully. Then, at the appropriate time, we placed our rocks at the foot of the cross. Well, most of us did. One friend of mine was still clutching hers. At first, the leaders didn’t notice. I don’t know what was on her rock. She only showed one or two leaders. Whatever it was, she did not want to let it go—especially in front of all of us. After a little coaxing, and some tears, an exterior door was opened. The room was dark (think candles, Bibles, icons, etc.), so the midday sun that streamed in when the door was opened for my friend was blinding. I remember seeing her image stepping through that door, with her rock in hand. She took two steps out the door, planted her front foot, and hurled that rock about 20 yards out into the field next door.

What are you clutching? Remember some of the markers of a lack of trust: fear, a desire for control, image management, past pain, a worry about the future, anger, angst. If you read that list slowly, you might uncover what you are clutching.

I spent some time with Rob Bell, a Christian author, in Laguna Beach a few summers ago. He said, “The best counselor has come to terms with the fact that he may or may not be able to help you.” Because at that point it ceases to be about the counselor, and starts being about the client.

As a pastor, when I accept that I may or may not be able to help you, then it’s more about you than it is me. As a father, when I accept that I may or may not be able to help my children, but couple that with a real desire for what’s best for my children, then I can actually be an asset to them.  If, as a husband, I think that my wife’s happiness is my responsibility, then I will probably smother her and make her very unhappy. But if I accept that her happiness is a goal that is beyond my control, and decide instead to simply enjoy being with her, then the possibility of her happiness increases exponentially.

Here is the bottom line: Life is one long process of letting go.

What do you need to let go of? What in your life are you clutching? What is characterized by the list associated with fear and clutching?

Jesus didn’t simply hand over a struggle, a burden or an issue to God. He gave him his Spirit. Your spirit is that thing in the center of everything else. It is who you are at your deepest level. That’s what Jesus entrusted into God’s hands. His hands are more than willing to embrace our spirits.

Entrust your spirit into God’s hands. Maybe you need to drop it at the feet of God. Or maybe you just need to step through that open door, plant your foot, and hurl that little rock you have been clutching so you can finally move on.

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