Letting Go So That We May Be More Fully Alive
- Sunday, July 2, 2017
- By Father Robin Ruder-Celiz
Growing up I was taught to plan for every eventuality. Every possibility needed to be analyzed and thought through so that the best possible solution or result could be achieved. Decisions were made with careful thought and never, if at all possible in the spur of the moment. The perceived risk of making spur of the moment decisions could be that the result or outcome would have negative consequences.
While there is wisdom in careful decision making, in the extreme this can also become rather inhibitive and create a sense of fear and scarcity. What would happen if we made the wrong decision, things may not turn out as planned? What if we made a mistake? What if it is not enough? Gradually with this thought the risk becomes that we become afraid to make a decision because of all the possible ways it can turn out wrong. Our vantage point becomes narrower and we develop an inward focus, a focus that feeds an attitude that there is never enough and therefore we need to be prepared and prepare to look after our own needs first.
While living in the Kootenays I had the opportunity to work both as a priest and a nurse. In many ways I needed to work as a nurse because this was how we could make ends meet and afford to live where we were. I had a rhythm and routine that worked. I was blessed to be able to work in the career of my choice and live into my calling as a priest while at the same time work as a nurse, a career I had chosen that met my interest in medicine and complimented my priestly ministry. One of the jobs I really enjoyed was being the Access Coordinator for Kootenay Boundary. This is the person in the health system who reviews and manages the wait list for residential care and assisted living.
As with most union jobs and careers there inevitably came the time when there was some turnover and re-shuffling within the system that resulted in many displacements. As a member of the union my job was also affected and I got displaced. Immediately I was thrown into a place of uncertainty. How long am I going to be displaced for? Will I be able to find a job that will allow me to work as a priest and a nurse in the same way? Will I have enough hours to be able to afford our bills and mortgage? The planning and analyzing every possible angle that would have been my natural instinct was not possible. This was not a planned change. There were too many unknowns. In many ways I was afraid and uncertain of what the future held for me or my family. My natural instinct was to try and hold onto what control I had to manage and fix the situation. As the process went on I realized that I was less in control of the situation. I had to learn painfully and quickly to let go of what I couldn’t control. In reflection this was probably the hardest part; letting go of control and being vulnerable to the process and what lay ahead. In the end, things did work out; I was able to find another job from which I was displaced from again within weeks and then ended up in yet another role. It was a difficult and challenging time in many ways. However it was not all bad. I learned and grew a lot out of that experience. I developed a stronger sense of self and assertiveness I had not had before, this had started with being the Access Coordinator. In time, it also gave me the ability to try something new and embrace the unknown as a possibility for something better.
In part I learned that while I may not be in control of the situation that I find myself in, God is ultimately in control. I learned that while the transition seemed to be negative and an uncertain transition it was also a possibility. I learned to seize these moments as possibilities and something to look forward to. The questions changed from the theme of: What else could go wrong? To: What is the new? What could I be doing that may be better than what I have just come out of? Where is God calling me next? By spinning the situation into the positive I was able to be more confident during this time and realize that God wishes to make everything well and that God shall make everything well and quite possibly better.
Our readings today are full of sin and death and new life in Christ and speak to the familiar transitions that I have been talking about. In many ways, the transitions we encounter are about life and death. We have to let go and allow some things to die in order for the new to take root and develop. I had to let go of what seemed to be the best of both worlds, working as a priest and as the Access Coordinator in order to make way for new and better possibilities. I wonder if this is the hardest part for us, letting go and handing control over to God. I realized too that while I was uncertain and fearful, God was already present and working in and through the situation to bring me to a better understanding of myself.
Our readings today invite us to pay attention to our own lives. As these words from Scripture sink into our conscience I wonder about the transitions you are in. I wonder what you are being called to let go of in your life so that you may be more fully alive. I wonder what we as a church need to let go so that we may be more fully alive. It is human nature to cling and hoard what we have, the known and familiar. This provides a sense of security and control we desperately desire. When we learn that ultimately we are not in control of much and that God is the one who is in control our anxiety and fear will subside. We don’t have to fix everything and we certainly don’t have to be right all the time. When we learn this understanding we begin to experience a freedom that will allow us to live into new ways of being that are better than we ever could imagine.