The Simple Secret to Peace of Mind
I spent 72 hours this week at a Jesuit retreat center in Colorado reading, praying, journaling and riding my mountain bike throughout the hills in the area.
I’ve come to appreciate the Jesuit perspective on Jesus as observed by St. Ignatius of Loyola – a Spanish aristocrat and military leader who had a midlife spiritual awakening.
Many people think the message of Jesus is “You’re a sinner and you’re going to hell if you stay on that path.” Ignatius searched the scriptures, his own heart, and the heart of God, and hears a different tone in Christ’s message: “You’re thinking and acting in a way that is causing you to create your own living hell, and if you keep it up, you’re going end up separating yourself from my love forever. Let me show you another way to think and live.”
Ignatius developed a series of exercises, reflections, and guided scripture readings that helps us define what we truly desire. Most of us desire health, financial security, people to love, people who love us in return, comfort, fun, meaningful work, a nice house and car, etc. But if we peel things back further, we recognize that what we really want is the peace and joy we hope these things will give us.
Our yearning is holy, but our hope is actually misplaced.
This brings up the frequently misunderstood Christian concept of surrender. Most people think Christian surrendering is about giving up all the fun and cool stuff in our lives and start living a monk’s life.
That’s not what Jesus had in mind. He’s NOT trying to rain on your parade. He’s fine with us having fun and cool stuff. He’s simply suggesting we surrender our emotional attachment to those things because they’ll never be enough. They provide just a foretaste of what he knows we really crave.
Here’s a metaphor that might help: Imagine you’re drowning. You’re losing strength and going down for a second time when it dawns on you: You’re wearing 40 pound backpack full of your life’s “trophies”, 20 pounds of gold, and the boastful pride you take in your looks, resume, house, car, etc. As you go down for the third time, you wouldn’t see letting go of the backpack as surrender, per se. You would see surrendering the backpack as life giving.
Here’s the point: God wants for you what you want for you. He’s not demanding we become good little obedient, suffering boys and girls. Joy and peace come from removing our attachment to anything or anyone that hinders our ability to receive His love and pass it on to others. Period. It’s that simple and true and profound.
Do you truly believe that God’s love and loving others is the key to peace and joy or is it still just theory and theology to you? What do you need to do to grasp this as reality?