“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’.” John 8:31-32 NLT
Surrounded by a kaleidoscope of fallen leaves, autumn seems like the perfect time to reflect on the spiritual discipline of letting go or detachment. I heard it said recently that when we choose to follow Jesus, our lives become a journey in which we move from slavery to our attachments into the freedom to love.*
What does this mean, to be a slave to attachments? Slavery means to be in bondage to, to be entrapped. Attachments could be in the form of expectations, addictions, or simply an ego ideal of how we think life should be for us. Perhaps we believe that we should be at a particular level in our career or point along our journey of spiritual growth, that our marriage should look a certain way, or that our children should be following a specific path…and reality is not matching up to these beliefs or expectations.
Holding onto these beliefs/expectations/attachments can lead to a multitude of problems, the greatest of which is they prevent us from attaching ourselves to God in the way He intended. Our identity becomes rooted in things other than simply being a beloved child of God. Because we feel incomplete when our lives don’t meet our expectations, we work endlessly to try and achieve them. Unable to rest in our true identity, we spend our lives performing, perfecting and producing…all in an attempt to live up to our attachments. We will never be able to receive life as it is in the given moment, missing out on opportunities for great joy. Last but certainly not least, we will find ourselves unable to accept and love the people in our lives (including ourselves) as they truly are.
As you reflect on this idea of attachments, ask God if there is anything that you need to consider letting go of so that you can step into greater freedom. Know that this is a process. We have had a lifetime to pick up these things, so we will find that it is like shedding layers as our walk with Jesus deepens. As we do this, we will find ourselves able to better receive God’s love, realize our true identity, and live out more fully what Jesus taught his followers:
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 NLT
*My paraphrase of a concept I heard on the John Mark Comer Teachings Podcast (Active and Passive Spirituality, 10/7/22) - He was quoting the work of author Gerald May