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loosening our grip

“Be patient towards all that is unsolved in you heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now.” Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, 1936.

I have a reoccurring thought that resurfaces in my mind almost constantly. It is a thought stimulated by the writings of Rohr, and I think it might be one of the more challenging ideas about life I’ve ever contemplated. It’s not that the idea is difficult to understand, but practically the confrontation is boldly counter to my thirst for westernized success, significance among my peers, and my ego’s craving need to be seen, heard, and acknowledged.

Ready?

All great spirituality is about letting go.” -Rohr

There it is! That thought right there – those seven simple words – are a tremendous invitation for us to give up the notion that we are in control—OF EVERYTHING.

We are not.

Jesus showed much respect and love to humanity, but His message was and is clearly counter-energy. Particularly counter to heavy-handed control and religious oppression. I don’t think He was anti-Jewish or adamantly opposed to formalized religion, but ultimately it appears that He wasn’t big on giving answers to all of life’s complexities through just those venues. Of the 183 questions He was asked in the gospels, Jesus only answered directly three times. Yet somehow, we feel compelled and obliged to give answers on most issues of society, theocracy, and ordinary life.

When did we become so damn certain about everything?

 I’m in the final hours of my ‘50s. I feel about the same as I did when in the final hours of my ‘40s… READY. That’s about the only way I can describe it. I might actually have a little more hope to enter this next decade of my life because of something one of my octogenarian mentors told me as I was preparing to enter my ‘50s:

“You’ll begin to tap into the purpose and meaning of your life near the end of your ‘60s. You’ve still got things to learn and unlearn.” McCarty

 As much as I love that statement, it whispers to me that as hard as I’ve tried to get it right (trust me… I’ve given tremendous effort to get it right), I’ve not arrived yet. Not even close. In fact, I suspect there is plenty more deconstruction required for this seeker of God.

There was a time when I don’t think I could have handled what I’m about to tell you. Poet Maya Angelou used to ask the most peculiar question of those who boldly proclaimed themselves “Christians” in her presence (like being “Christian” is similar to being a card carrying member at a country club: you buy your way in, pay dues, and keep the rules).

Maya would ask, “Already?”

That is a beautiful thing right there! As I said, I think I’m just now able to appreciate some of what is packed in that “Already?” A question in a single word that directly challenges what we think we know and what we think we control. It is a word that liberates us if we will allow it. I don’t have to get it right today. It’s an unfolding process of success, failure, joy, disappointment, betrayal, loss, trust, and most importantly… loosening the grip on our, “I got this.”

When Rohr proclaims his doctrine of “letting go,” I think he is inviting us to drink from the cup of liberation. That concerns most conservative types because we fear stepping across lines and out of safety zones! Liberty isn’t necessarily license. It’s freedom. It’s freedom from the things that entangle us. To be briefly translucent, I suspect that “me” is frequently the culprit of what entangles me most.

When it’s time to blow out the candles for the 60th time in my life, I’ll wish and hope that I’ll have enough courage to “let go” (again and again and again) and tap into a more genuine spiritual expression that truly reflects and honors His (Their) DNA in my life.

CONFESSION: I rarely look anymore for what is fashionably trendy or traditionally “common” in our current Christian culture. I’m pretty much over our tired brands of belonging (regardless of how big the crowd), and glow-in-the-dark problem solvers. It often appears that people genuinely in touch with their brokenness and rejection issues are much more attractive reps of authentic Kingdom. That seems to be more in line with the teachings of the Gospels.

Give me a community of lovers who are honestly self-aware, genuinely concerned for others, and not too certain or too quick to give absolute answers for every life challenge … and I’m there. I’ve come to believe that God is terrible (the Hebrew word is yârêʾ, pronounced yaw-ray´, also translates as “awesome,” see Dt 10:17; Job 37:22; Ps 66:5, 111:19; Ezk 1:22), unboxed, and magnificently unmanageable or manipulated by me—A God who is really God.

Novel, huh? I agree.

I thought it would be cool to list 60 questions around “letting go”. That’s probably too many, too long, and you’re probably already bored. But, here they are anyway. Feel free to peace out at will: 

60 for 60

 

Can I, have I, or am I willing to “loosen the grip” on my…

 

1 … need to be right?

2 … need to prove my superiority?

3 … need to have the answers?

4 … need to be strong, no matter the situation?

5 … need to be “in” whatever is in?

6 … addiction to winning?

7 … belief that “how it looks” is what matters?

8 … belief that ego (false self) projects my best self?

9 … belief that heaven is reserved only for those who pray “the” prayer?

10 … belief that only Christians understand God’s truth and revelation?

11 … belief that “God knowledge” can be fully contained in doctrine and systems of theology?

12 … belief that Jesus saved us from the angry wrath of our Heavenly Father?

13 … belief that some sins are worse than others?

14 … belief that a man or an organization can get me to my destiny?

15 … belief that being mean to someone might help change his or her mind and heart about God’s love?

16 … belief that God’s love is only reserved for good Christians?

17 … belief that life is fair and plays by my rules?

18 … belief that mercy does not triumph over judgment?

19 … belief that God’s people vote Republican?

20 … belief that I’m in control?

21 … belief that I can manipulate God’s favor with my piety and good deeds?

22 … belief that the Bible is the only way God speaks anymore?

23 … belief that hell is singularly an afterlife punishment by God?

24 … belief that God is surprised, disappointed, and totally angered at mankind?

25 … belief that real Christians believe that the Bible is God’s final revelation to man?

26 … belief that there is no way to connect with God outside of church activities?

27 … belief that I am never, ever wrong?

28 … belief that we’re still bound to Mosaic Law somehow?

29 … belief that all non-protestant faith expressions are opposed to God, and ultimately hell-bound?

30 … belief that poverty happens because people are lazy and up to no good?

31 … belief that God “owes me” because of my devotion and passion?

32 … belief that grace is for salvation; after that, we’ve got to get it right?

33 … belief that things matter over people?

34… loveless faith expressions?

35 … love of dualism (right or wrong, out or in, good or evil) ideologies?

36… spiritual pride?

37 … jealousy?

38 … lust for success and wealth?

39 … “us” against “them” mentalities?

40 … dismissal of anyone who doesn’t live like, act like, pray like, or believe like me?

41 … refusal to acknowledge that God’s DNA resides in every single person?

42 … certainty that I already know the answers?

43 … certainty that God prefers my worship style over others?

44 … certainty that I know what is sin and what is not sin?

45 … certainty that Christians wear holy Kevlar because of our prayers?

46 … certainty that I know who is in heaven and who is not?

47 … certainty that I know who goes to hell and who does not?

48 … certainty that real Christians always believe that the Bible is inerrant and infallible?

49 … certainty that the Adam and Eve story literally happened about 6,000 years ago?

50 … certainty that all scripture is always literally applicable “as written”?

51 … certainty that some kind of justice is served when people die badly?

52 … certainty that our pastor and spiritual leaders have it all figured out?

53 … certainty that tomorrow will happen?

54 … certainty that science is in direct moral opposition to faith?

55 … certainty that the Apostle Paul was an authoritative deity, much like Jesus?

56 … certainty that I totally grasp how good the “Good News” really is?

57 … certainty that God loves winning and winners?

58 … certainty that my main job as a Christian is to be outwardly nice?

59 … certainty that I’m right about not ever being wrong.

60 … certainty of my certainties?

Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

BE GOOD AT LIFE!

Mike

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. June 6, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Thanks for sharing this, Mr. Mike! There is much to take from this, much to consider & be personally challenged by. (At least for me it is). I love you! -T

  2. June 6, 2017 at 9:53 am

    WOW (Words Of Wisdom)!
    A very thought provoking post, Mike!
    Thank You for your unique insights, many of which remind me also of Dr. M Scott Peck.
    He had a seminar once on the topic of
    “What do we actually think we KNOW about our future” or something to that effect. What a relief for me, who simply lives in the present moment, to not have to think I Know what’s going to happen an hour from now.
    Thanks for the post! ~M~

    • June 6, 2017 at 10:07 am

      exactly Margaret! Thanks for reading friend!

  3. June 7, 2017 at 10:17 am

    I so miss hearing your thoughts. You guys have taught me much about being okay with the not knowing. Love you!

    • June 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Yeah, we kinda specialize in not knowing. ; ) Love you kiddo.

  4. Christine caviness
    June 7, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Wow. So good. I needed this today, Mike. Thank you for posting!

  5. john
    June 8, 2017 at 8:18 am

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY ! MR MIKE. LOVE YOU FROM MN BROTHER. READING TODAY WAS INSPIRING. YOU WRITE WELL,KEEP IT UP. BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD ,WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR.
    JC

    • June 8, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Thank you my brother! Thanks for checking in.

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