Words of Hope: Detachment

One of the essential life lessons Dad helped me with is the idea of detachment. I am very passionate and opinionated, so the lessons of detachment take me time. Dad worked to empty himself of anything that took the place of God in his life. One of his favorite prayers to pray (The Suscipe) goes, “Take Lord and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. All I have and call my own, you have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace; that is enough for me.”

In early Christian teaching, the Greek word “apatheia” meant freedom from unruly urges and compulsions. An unrestrained passion, urge, or compulsion was a torment of the soul. In scripture, David says of his unruly passions, “They will swarm around like bees, stinging me, and light a fire of thorns around me; because the fire of anguish and suffering is set by the appetites, the thorns.” 

Detachment is freedom from constantly having to be correct. Freedom from being owned by my possessions. Freedom to give up the rights to my time, talent, money and instead offer them to God first. Detachment is also giving up the right to vengeance or bitterness – choosing to pray for those who have hurt me.  

As Dad was dying, I prayed The Suscipe several times with Dad. I knew he was letting go of life, his home, his family, even his own body and choosing instead to trust what God had waiting for him— letting go to find something infinitely better.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – 1 Peter 5:7