Tomorrow is Independence Day, a day when we as Americans celebrate freedom. And too often, when we think of freedom we think of it as the ability to do what we want, to control our own lives. But when it comes to our spiritual life, if we think we should be able to control everything, we quickly learn how little control we actually have.
Recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop Father Matthew Spencer, OSJ reflected on our desire for control, and how much freedom can be found in surrendering to God. He said:
“We have to recognize that God is in control. We have to recognize that God is the one who is ultimately driving the situations and circumstances of our lives. We try, as individuals, to be in control of things. So I try to make sure that situations turn out the way that I want, that my children do what I want, that the problems I have go away in the way that I would plan. That’s just normal behavior we have as individuals.
But I do think there is the realization that each one of us has to come to, especially as Christians. That there are many things we can’t control. There are many things that only God can control. And when we let go of the sense of control, oftentimes we find freedom. We find an ability to respond, to be happy, to be joyful even when things aren’t going our way. That to me is a powerful part of this.
We do have to take responsibility for those things are up to us, so I have to take responsibility for my actions. I have to decide when things are correct to do, and I have to decide when I need to go to Confession and when I don’t need to go to Confession. I need to follow-through and do it to the best of my ability.
But we also, on the other side of the coin, we have to recognize that we can’t always be in control. And that’s a beautiful thing in our Christian life – to surrender to God. It’s ultimately what Lent is about.
It’s the same way that Jesus in His Passion surrendered Himself to the will of the Father. You remember, He was on the Mount of Olives, His disciples can’t stay awake with Him, He’s sweating blood from so much turmoil in His heart over what He’s about to go through for me and for you. And He says, ‘Father, if it be Your will, let this cup pass from Me. But not My will but Thy will be done.’ He surrendered Himself to the will of the Father.
So you and I need to look and ask if we can do the same thing. Take control of those things we can, and then let go of those things we can’t. Be responsible for those things we know are our responsibility, but recognize the difference between those times when you are in control and when you are not.
It may lead to better mental health for me and for you. But it will especially lead us to be good Christians, following the Lord in the way that He wants.”
Listen to the full reflection below: