“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
Boy, oh boy, is it hard to disentangle from our world.
I’ve spent the previous 24 hours obsessing over a comment someone made to me during a business meeting.
Honestly, it was only a simple observation on their part, shared within a larger conversation. But the observation was about me, and you know how that goes — in a 20-minute conversation, it became the one thing I seized upon, like that chia seed caught between your teeth. You can’t think about anything else; your tongue searches it out and hovers around it.
Over time, the quite simple, rather benign remark has become filled with implication and all sorts of subterfuge as I wonder and worry and speculate over what this colleague meant. I think you know well the experience I’m talking about — somebody says something to you in passing, and later you find yourself wondering, then worrying, what they meant by it.
I don’t think of myself as an obsessive person, but in looking back upon the conversation, the comment feels loaded — which leads me to wonder what the subtext was, which leads me to wonder about the subtext to everything this person said to me in the conversation. Which leads me to wonder what the subtext is to our relationship, and have I been misinterpreting everything that has been taking place?!
One small comment in a marketing meeting triggered an avalanche of speculation in me — speculation about motives, my leadership and the integrity of this relationship altogether.
Lord, help me.
Over the course of these very unhelpful 24 hours, every time I turned to Jesus to try to get some peace and orientation, He simply kept saying, Give this to Me. Release this to Me. Give that person to Me, echoing 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” And I was struck by how difficult that is, especially once I'm really worked up in speculation, worry, genuine concern or anxiety.
As I began to practice the smallest measure of release, the relief was almost immediate.
To make room for God to fill the vessel of our soul, we have to begin moving out some unnecessary clutter that continually accumulates there like the junk drawer in our kitchen. Our souls accumulate stuff, too, pulling it in like a magnet. And so, as the philosopher and theologian Augustine said, we must empty ourselves of all that fills us so that we may be filled with what we are empty of.
Over time, I’ve found no better practice to help clear out my cluttered soul than the practice of benevolent detachment: the ability to let it go, walk away — not so much physically but emotionally, soulfully.
Mature adults have learned how to create a healthy distance between themselves and the things they have become entangled with. Thus the word “detachment.” It means getting untangled, stepping out of the quagmire; it means peeling apart the Velcro by which this person, relationship, crisis or global issue has attached itself to you, or you to it. Detachment means getting some healthy distance.
Social media overloads our empathy. So I use the word “benevolent” in referring to this necessary kind of detachment because we’re not talking about cynicism or resignation. Benevolence means kindness, something done in love. Jesus invites us into a way of living where we are genuinely comfortable turning things over to Him:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG).
Jesus declares there is a way “to live freely and lightly.”
Jesus began teaching me about benevolent detachment almost two years ago. Every time I would turn to Him with a question, He would say, Give everyone and everything to Me. The invitation rang so true; I knew I needed to learn this. I’d be asking about something entirely unrelated to the people in my life — car repairs, scheduling a trip, my tax returns — and Jesus would reply, Give everyone and everything to Me.
Jesus asks you to release the world, to release people, crises, trauma, intrigue, all of it. The soul was never meant to inhabit a world like this. It’s way too much. Somewhere, sometime in your day, you’ve just got to release it. You’ve got to let it go.
And as you practice release, what you’re doing is creating soul space, carving out the intellectual and emotional space for God to come in.
God, I give everyone and everything to You. I give You my day, God. I release my family and my children to You. God, I give You my worries and fears. I give everyone and everything to You now, Father. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
1 Peter 5:7, “Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” (MSG)
What are some specific ways you could live more carefree before God?
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