“There are three primary things that we must let go of. First is the compulsion to be successful. Second is the compulsion to be right—even, and especially, to be theological right… Finally, there is the compulsion to be powerful, to have everything under control. I am convinced that these are the three demons Jesus faced in the wilderness.” Richard Rohr
We depend upon so many false narratives to fill our longing hearts with meaning and contentment.
The Quest for More
In our mismanaged quest for “more,” we hunger for some sense of unique and important personal identity. Among those longings are the acquisition of success, certainty, and the power to control my life. Richard Rohr suggests we need to get rid of these three goals in order to be spiritually and psychologically whole.
How My Goals Can Have Negative Impacts
On my! I think I’m in trouble. After all, I fear that these false narratives just might represent my ego-centered goals in life. I want to be successful. I love to be right. And yes, I want to be able to control my future, as well as my present. Although these three compulsions may be part of the American ethos of the independent, self-assured, and competent person, they are most certainly not the path to the realm of higher spiritual identity.
Spiritual identity requires upside-down-thinking where things like “you must lose yourself in order to find yourself” is the call of the one searching for eternal meaning.
Let’s ponder the search for eternal meaning with Richard’s three compulsive “temptations.”
- “Success” is a most contextual word. Success is about mastering and attaining that which I perceive brings joy and contentment. Lasing success can be realized in areas such as understanding, humility, kindness, and empathy—eternal truths that honor life both personally and corporately.
On the other hand, my culture and ego define success as money, clothes, and cars. In other words, the acquisition of stuff. Now… in my mind the acquisition of stuff is not inherently bad or wrong. However, if not combined with virtue, then this success is highly volatile and can easily be lost.
2. “Certitude” offers me a sense of “okayness.” I become personally settled in my mind when I know that I am right. Most all of us feel that way. Instead, what about always knowing that you could be wrong and then being open to considering someone else’s opinions or ideas or philosophies. That can only occur when I am more confident in my eternal virtues that I am with being applauded for my rightness.
3. “The Power to Control My Life” is all about safety and security, issues common to all human beings. You can hear it in the favorite phrases like “When I get…” or “If only…” Both phrases depend, once again, on acquisition. The truth is, I haven’t the power to control my future. We are afraid of losing control. We are afraid of the unknown. And so, some of us recognize these fears and place them into the hands of a Higher Power.
What Do You Wish to Get Rid of this Spring?
So, what is it you wish to “clean up” this Spring? What about considering losing (or at least reducing) the needs of success, certitude, and control? What about letting go of these and let the main thing continue to be the main thing?
When Letting Go of the Unneeded
Is a Means to Attain the Most Needed
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