The fruit of detachment

by Ali Hoffman

North Texas Catholic

4/18/2021

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Lately, I’ve been praying through the book “Searching for and Maintaining Peace” by Father Jacques Philippe. It’s a simple, short book on how to cultivate interior peace, the same peace Jesus promises that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). If this pandemic has taught me anything, it's that nothing is certain. I cannot place my hope in anything other than God, my foundation. I’ve come to learn what it actually means when Jesus said, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

In Father Philippe’s book, one of the conditions he outlines to maintain this peace is a certain detachment or abandonment to anything other than God, even good things. When I hear the word detachment, I immediately get tensed and wary, thinking God is going to ask me to give up everything and everyone I love to live a life of drudgery and turmoil, because why would God actually want me to be happy?! So I tend to hold onto things harder, not willing to give them up or have a spirit of detachment to them. What if I give up something good and God doesn’t replace it with something better? I struggle with giving up any semblance of control and want to take matters into my own hands.

For Lent this year, I decided to sign up for a Holy Hour of Adoration at my local parish, and one day in that hour, I decided to crack open the door to finally think about what detachment could look like. If this is a requirement for the peace I so desperately crave, then there has to be some fruit or beauty attached to it, right? I have enough lived experience walking with the Lord to know He doesn’t trick us into giving up anything. Everything given over to Him is replaced by Himself in a more perfect and final way. I have dreams and desires that I know nothing on earth can ultimately fulfill. So, with this trust, I dove into praying with the Holy Spirit, asking Him to enlighten me to see what beauty detachment can bring. And here are a few of the fruits I came up with:

  1. Attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit
  2. Holding everything with open hands
  3. To be malleable to God’s design
  4. Docility to the Holy Spirit
  5. Confidence in God as Father and as Provider
  6. Surrender
  7. Open to what God wants vs. what we want
  8. Availability
  9. Practice self-discipline
  10. Building God’s kingdom rather than my own
  11. Doing what the Father wants me to do
  12. Grow in the virtue of faith
  13. Walking by faith and not by sight
  14. Interior peace of heart

These are some fruits I’ve either experienced or have witnessed when I become detached to anything other than God. Detachment is not a dislike or disgust of created things, but rather, realizing they are not the end goal. For example, as a single woman who desires marriage, if I hold too tightly to the dream of being married with children and never truly give that desire up to Jesus, then marriage can easily turn into an idol for me that I put on a pedestal instead of Jesus. My life doesn’t “start” when I get married; it’s happening now, and the Lord wants to move and work in my life now. The more I live my life in detachment to my dreams and desires, the more the above fruits can spring up into my life.

What about you? What would you add to this list? What is your experience of detachment? Wherever you are, the Lord wants to meet you there. It’s a process and a journey of taking one step at a time, always knowing and living in the trust and certainty that God is a good Father who delights in His children!

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Lately, I’ve been praying through the book “Searching for and Maintaining Peace” by Father Jacques Philippe.

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