“I prayed and prudence was given me; I pleaded and the spirit of wisdom came to me.”Wisdom 7:7
Do you find yourself holding on to things in your life, material stuff, anger, resentment, jealousy, relationships? Or perhaps, these things are holding on to you.
What are you holding on to?
In Mark chapter 10, we read about a conversation between Jesus and a young man who appears to be longing for something more; yet when he is asked to give up all he has to follow Jesus, he turns away.
Do you struggle with holding on to things that keep you from following Jesus?
A few weeks ago, I engaged in a conversation that left me feeling frustrated, angry and hurt.
Why did this conversation make me so upset?
My answer: I’ll never be good enough.
In that moment, conversing with my dad, I felt I had to prove I was good enough by all the things that I do in my spiritual life. Why did I feel I had something to prove?
Those thoughts lingered with me throughout the next two weeks. Instead of praying, my thoughts took me to this place of pain. I began to evaluate all areas in my life where I didn’t feel good enough. I wasn’t good enough for my ex-husband, not good enough to write, not good enough for my friends, not good enough to do my job at work, etc. My spirit was spiraling.
I was holding on to a childhood memory of not feeling good enough, not meeting expectations. These feelings were flooding my being. I knew I had to understand this root that fed these feelings.
Next step… spiritual direction. As I discussed it with my spiritual director, she mentioned perhaps the root of my feelings was pride and asked me to pray about it.
Was I hanging on to pride? A good question! I began to pursue the answer. Just as we hear Solomon pray in the book of Wisdom, I prayed for understanding and guidance. Prayer led me to finding a book on Amazon, “Sin, Pride and Self-Acceptance”.
In The City of God, St Augustine states that “the Devil would not have entrapped man by the obvious and open sin of doing what God had forbidden, had not man already started to please himself…. this then is the original evil: man regards himself as his own light, and turns away from that light which would make man himself a light if he would set his heart on it. This evil came first in secret, and the result was the other evil, which was committed in the open.”
What Terry Cooper goes on to explain is that the act of eating the fruit was a manifestation of what had already begun in the mind of Adam and Eve. Without the preemptive sinful thought of pride, man would not have been tempted by the Devil.
Could pride be the root of my anger, frustration and hurt or is there an underlying root of pride that manifests it, such as a lack of self-acceptance?
As I reflected on my conversation with my dad of trying to prove myself by blurting out all the things I do well (in my opinion), I began to wonder if this was an act of pride, rooted in my brokenness of not feeling good enough.
“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”Hebrews 4:12
Was I, like the young man in the gospel holding on? Was I holding on to memories where I felt I could not meet my dad’s expectations? Were these feelings preventing me from following Jesus more deeply?
Fr Mike Schmitz reflected on the young man in the gospel reading this Sunday holding on to his possessions as he shared his own feelings of anger he held on to throughout his childhood.
There are so many things in our lives we hold on to that prevent us from following Christ more closely. If we allow these things to manifest into sin, we drive a larger wedge between our relationship with God. The sin can simply be not following God’s will for us because of something we are holding on to or hurting another in some way.
How do we let go?
Will I ever sever the root of my brokenness? Probably not. The key is in Fr Mike’s message – when I’m holding on to something or something is holding on to me, all I have to do is hold on to Him. My brokenness is a part of me. The more I hold on to Christ, I reduce the grip the “not good enough” has on me.
The invitation today is to hold on to Him by staying steadfast in prayer.
Lord, today I pray that you hold on to me, that you hear me and speak to my heart, giving me wisdom in your love and your way, reducing the things that are holding on to me. Amen