The title of this post is a bit misleading. I don’t really believe in “accidental” detachment, any more than I believe in accidental holiness. But I’ve noticed something interesting in my life over the past several months. I’m seeing success and growth in areas I haven’t been focusing on, and I believe I am seeing God’s hand at work.
As my longtime readers know, I like to focus on one area of spirituality to work on each year. In 2013, I chose to work on trust. That led to a huge change in my life and my book Trusting God with St. Therese. For 2014 my plan was to work on detachment. I did start the year with a few blog posts on detachment. I also made a habit of turning my mind and heart immediately towards God when I enjoyed or thought about food and drink.
I planned to start working on another small area next, but I didn’t get very far. As the publication of my book came closer, all my mental energy was focused on completing it. I have a hard time entering fully into two projects at once. So I just could not focus my mind on detachment in the way I wanted to.
However, I have been praying for help on detachment, and over the past few days I realized that God has been answering those prayers, even without my noticing it. Here is how it happened.
Naturally speaking, I have wide interests and an opinion about almost everything. If a friend was discussing politics on Facebook, I would jump into the conversation, defending the side I agreed with.
While writing and proofing my book, I had less time for discretionary activities. I had to pare down my interaction with others on social media. I had to pass by all those political posts in my Facebook feed without commenting. I reserved my comments for prayer requests and posts on spirituality. Nearly everything else was filtered out.
Last week I did jump into a political conversation. In the midst of it, I realized I didn’t think I had all the answers any more. I saw issues as more complex than I had in the past. And I suddenly saw that while I still had opinions, I didn’t care much about them now. Defending them seemed a waste of time, even when I had more discretionary time.
As the political season gets into full swing, I find I no longer care much about candidates’ economic policy, or their opinion of how to handle the situation in the Middle East, or states’ rights, or gun rights. I reserve my energy for fighting for life, the family, and religious freedom. All else appears trivial.
So what lesson can we learn here? As we spend less time and less energy on anything, its significance in our lives decreases. If we act like something is unimportant, we begin to see it as unimportant. The same thing happens in the reverse. If we make time for a certain person, activity, or object, we begin to value it more highly.
We’ve probably all experienced this over the course of Lent. At the beginning, giving up sweets for forty days might seem impossible, but if we endure, we find that by Easter our taste for sweets has waned.
When we learn that detachment is necessary for intimacy with Christ, we might want to give up the Christian life before we’ve even begun. We don’t think we can live without all the things we love. We don’t realize that detachment becomes easier as we mature, that things we love now will seem trivial to us when compared with our growing love for Christ.
I could choose now to go back to arguing about politics on Facebook. But I pray I do not. I have a new freedom, a new peace. It is so much easier now to say no.
Thank you, Lord, for your hand on my life. Thank you for the gift of “accidental” detachment.
Note 1: Please pray for me as I give a talk on Trusting God at our parish Council of Catholic Women meeting this evening. God reward you!
Note 2: As you comment on this post, could I ask you to focus on spirituality, not politics? Although I used politics as an example, that is not what this post is about. I’d like to keep it centered on detachment. Thanks for your cooperation.