Letting Go In 2018


By Carolyn Shields

I've been in this funk, lacking enthusiasm, and just kind of stretched thin all around here lately. And my response is 'what the heck,' because I know I'm also doused in grace during this season of life. Sure, work has become a little lackluster, its newness has worn off, and the evening and weekend hours are starting to take a toll on me. My weekly grocery budget has shrunk to $30 a week which is, you know, tough.  I'm chugging along to close out this beautiful year. But mainly the past few months I've been keenly aware of the thousands of things I come across each day that frankly, I just don't feel like doing.

Appointments or meetings scheduled for the afternoon where I have an overwhelming urge to cancel. I could just reschedule them or talk to the person over the phone anyway, right? Emails that just seem draining and get buried. There's people I need to hold accountable and call them on, but it's just easier not to. And so on. This flight - fight response? It's been a big struggle lately.

I may not have a cure or a solution, but I did just come across the diagnosis: my will seems a little extra vulnerable here lately, and I'm just really feeling this 'free will' thing.

Thomas Aquinas kind of defines the will as the power of the soul that desires and chooses, which is perceived in the intellect which is more rational. And temptation is so freaking close to our free will because there the serpent lurks, seeing me want to bail and cancel and avoid instead of responding as Christ would.

I can't help but think of Eve whose one bad decision took humanity down a tricky path that He never wanted. The Catechism tells us, "Man's freedom is limited and fallible. In fact, man failed. He freely sinned. By refusing God's plan of love, he deceived himself and became a slave to sin. This first alienation engendered a multitude of others. From its outset, human history attests the wretchedness and oppression born of the human heart in consequence of the abuse of freedom" (1739). But it's not like God thought free will was a mistake then, right? I mean, He could have said, "Ok, wrong decision Eve. I'm gonna redo creation since it's only like, day eight, and fix that."

No, He kept free will. Letting someone go to make their own decisions is one of the most powerful acts of love.

But for me, my free will feels like a burden lately because I see an easy way out. I vividly see a way to avoid awkward situations, a way that can avoid pain, keep my insecurities hidden, tough conversations unsaid. It's attractive. But that's the same path Eve took. The easy one.

So my prayer for 2018 has been to slow down and to do what is being asked of me in the present moment. To not be overwhelmed with thinking of what's coming three hours later. To not become anxious if a workload seems a little heavy.

Sure, I'm struggling to get a grip on my will here lately, and I'm praying that in 2018 I'll be able to more accurately align my will to His, but Holy not only gave us the example of Eve with what happens when we take the easy way out. He also gave us the example on how to say yes instead of fleeing. Humanity fell in the garden when Eve chose the easy thing and sin became our consequence. Ugly. But humanity was redeemed in another garden, Gethsemane, and it was here where we see what we will have when we stay firm and choose the hard path.

Jesus could have fled. That moment in Gethsemane was His moment. He could have avoided the Cross. He could have avoided the pain and the humiliation. He could have avoided the hard path.

But He didn't. And by choosing to walk to Golgotha, He overcame humanity's inheritance of sin and death and replaced it with eternal life.

He felt His will too. He also had a choice. And that's when He prayed, "Father, not my will be done, but yours."