The Spirituality of Letting Go

November 19, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 4 Comments

Spirituality is always about letting go.” Richard Rohr

As I have written several times in the past few years, my personal spirituality is now based on lessons I have learned from the mystics like Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, and John of the Cross. And very prominently by contemporary teacher, Richard Rohr.

First Things

It is from these teachers I have discovered that deep spirituality begins with me and my willingness to explore my own predilections, biases, and beliefs. In doing so, I inevitably encounter my own idols—things I choose to hold on to very dearly.

Idolatry, it seems to me, is the primary issue of concern in the Old Testament. God’s people look to a myriad of “things” to worship instead of God—the worship of false idols is of special interest in the mind of God. But what exactly are false idols? Especially, what are the false idols today? And even more important, what are My idols?

False Idols

In the OT false idols were actual idols representing other gods. For us, however, “other gods” are most often the things we have come to adore and follow. In my mind, human nature is built to worship. For that reason, idolatry runs its wicked course through all we do and love in life—sports teams, musicians, political leaders, “successful” people… the list is never-ending and is most certainly particular to each individual.

With that in mind, Richard Rohr prompts us to “let go.” “Spirituality is always about letting go.” That is, letting go of the ties that bind us. And those “ties” are usually the idols we have come to worship.

The Idol of Me

It is at this point the message of the mystics always leads to personal reflection and the uncomfortable realization that the idol I must eventually wrestle with is the “Idol of Me.” This tedious obsession with myself can easily be recognized by my overpowering hunger for power, prestige, and possessions.

And so Richard, with the influence of the community of mystics, guides us to turn to our own individualized idol of the “self.” The Letting Go begins with letting go of our own egoic needs for attention and acquisitions. These egoic needs are always the first and primary roadblock to spirituality.

When Letting Go Becomes Personal

I think it is at this point that the mystics go “from preaching to meddling.” It is at this point the message becomes far too personal. In a world that preaches the problem is typically found “out there” somewhere, the likes of Richard Rohr stir our hearts to look deeply into our own core of needs and beliefs.

My true spirituality can only rise after I come to the place where I can begin to let go… of Me.

Letting Go

Begins with Letting Go of Me

Photo courtesy of SunnyVMD at istockphoto

4 thoughts on “The Spirituality of Letting Go”

  1. This is exactly where I am. After over 65 years one would think it would be easier…and in many ways it is. But every day, I have to start with me and deciding if it will be my way or God’s way. This, I believe, is what taking up one’s Cross daily means.

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