Commit wholeheartedly but be willing to let go

There is an extraordinary idea at the heart of Ignatian spirituality. It is a particular kind of freedom with respect to all things in life. It is the capacity to commit wholeheartedly to a particular task and, at the same time, be willing to let go of it. This is precisely because the ultimate purpose is deepening relationship with God. Asking questions such as ‘where is God in this?’ or ‘what is for the greater glory of God?’ becomes the guiding light, rather than ‘am I happy?’ or ‘am I making a success?’

For a Jesuit this is usually manifest in the way in which their life is lead – they are given a job for six years and then they are moved to a new job, which frequently requires a relocation to new city as well. To invest fully in the development of something to the best of one’s ability and then being willing to let go and let the next person take over is not something that many of us are terribly good at. It is not simple.

As I am slowly building my own career, slowly developing a reputation for myself, I am grateful for the opportunity to be brought back to the realisation of the importance of that strange balance. The willingness to give myself wholeheartedly to the things I believe I need to develop and yet, not to invest my ego in their success. It is so easy to get distracted by trying to build my academic career, as though that were the ultimate goal.

The truth of the matter is that right now I do believe that I am in the right place doing the right thing. But I have to be open to the possibility that there may come a time when that is no longer true. And I don’t mean that simply in terms of the university that I work at, but being an academic at all. Nevertheless, even with that consideration, I need to continue to invest in my academic career in this place wholeheartedly.

Indifference requires an ongoing commitment to discernment. A willingness to revisit the question of whether I am in the right place periodically. This is not motivated by insecurity, but by a recognition that things change over time, and what is clearly right today, may not be so forever. This is not to say that there will not be grief when the time for change comes.

Indifference requires that I invest wholeheartedly in a project, but that I hold it with open hands. Indifference requires willing to let go when the time is right in the knowledge that God and I will go on.

I write this post in gratitude for the existence of Loyola Hall, deeply saddened at the announcement of its closure in April 2014, but in full awareness of the necessity of the decision. I pray for all who have passed through its doors over the years, and for all who will be directly affected by the closure.

2 thoughts on “Commit wholeheartedly but be willing to let go

  1. Thanks for this thoughtful post, Mags. The balance between commitment and letting go in relation to academic life so beautifully expressed.

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