“Perhaps the most difficult forgiveness, the greatest letting go, is to forgive ourselves for doing it wrong. We need to realize that we are not perfect, and we are not innocent. “One learns one’s mystery at the price of one’s innocence” says Robertson Davies. If I want to maintain an image of myself as innocent, superior, or righteous, I can only do so at the cost of truth. I would have to reject the mysterious side, the shadow side, the broken side, the unconscious side of almost everything. We have for too long confused holiness with innocence, whereas holiness is actually mistakes overcome and transformed, not necessary mistakes avoided.
Letting go is different than denying or repressing. To let go of it, you have to admit it. You have to own it. Letting go is different than turning it against yourself. Letting go is different than projecting it onto others. Letting go means that the denied, repressed, rejected parts of myself are seen for what they are. You see it and you hand it over to God. You hand it over to history. You refuse to let the negative story line that you’ve wrapped yourself around define your life.
This is a very different way of living. It implies that you see your mistake, your dark side, and you don’t split from it. You don’t pretend it’s not true. You go to the place that has been called “the gift of tears.” Weeping is a word to describe that inner attitude where I can’t fix it, I can’t explain it, I can’t control it, I can’t even understand it. I can only forgive it—weep over it and let go of it. Grieving reality is different than hating it.
Letting go of our cherished images of ourselves is really the way to heaven, because when you fall down to the bottom, you fall on solid ground, the Great Foundation, the bedrock of God. It looks like an abyss, but it’s actually a foundation. On that foundation, you have nothing to prove, nothing to protect: “I am who I am who I am,” and for some unbelievable reason, that’s what God has chosen to love. At that point, the one you’re in love with is both God and yourself too, and you find yourself henceforth inside of God (John 14:20)!”
~ Richard Rohr
“The spiritual journey is a journey into Mystery, requiring us to enter the “cloud of unknowing” where the left brain always fears to tread. Precisely because we’re being led into Mystery, we have to let go of our need to know and our need to keep everything under control. Most of us are shocked to discover how great this need is.
There are three primary things that we have to let go of, in my opinion. First is the compulsion to be successful. Second is the compulsion to be right—even, and especially, to be theologically right. (That’s merely an ego trip, and because of this need, churches have split in half, with both parties prisoners of their own egos.) Finally there is the compulsion to be powerful, to have everything under control.
I’m convinced these are the three demons Jesus faced in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Until we each look these three demons in their eyes, we should presume that they are still in charge in every life. The demons have to be called by name, clearly, concretely, and practically, spelling out just how imperious, controlling, and self-righteous we all are. This is the first lesson in the spirituality of subtraction.”
~ Richard Rohr
“I see hope as an attitude where everything stays open before me. Not that I don’t think of my future in those moments, but I think of it in an entirely different way. Daring to stay open to whatever will come to me today, tomorrow, two months from now or a year from now – that is hope. To go fearlessly into things without knowing how they will turn out, to keep on going, even when something doesn’t work the first time, to have trust in whatever you’re doing – that is living with hope.”
~ Letter from a student of Henri Nouwen, With Open Hands
“The point of life is to love, and to do so is a choice. In that choice I take action, and in that action, I am love. I have a voice. I can use it to oppress, or I can use it to liberate. I can create, I can lead, and I can love. The same is true for you. Together we can say, I love.
All we have and are is love.”
~ Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.