Today's Richard Rohr Meditation on Letting go of the need to control


one day at a time
Good Morning dear friends...I just read this, this morning, and find it so incredibly relevant to each of our lives on this forum. Please know I am not promoting here Christianity or any particular pattern of belief, and please disregard here the items included that do not work for you. There is still much meat here to be chewed on for our lives, and I so believe that this is the true path for each of us that will bring peace, joy, contentment and serenity. I try so hard to focus on this path constantly (and I fail a lot). People who have not yet experienced great suffering many times have not come face to face with this life-altering choice. This is one good thing about what we have all been through---we have been, and are continually being---forced to look at this One Great Question about how we will live our lives.

You Are Not in Control
Thursday, May 26, 2016

To be in control of one's destiny, health, career, or finances seems to be an unquestionable cultural value. On a practical level it may be partially true, but not on the bigger level. Our bodies, our souls, and especially our failures, teach us this as we get older. We are clearly not in control. This is not a negative discovery, but a thrilling discovery of divine providence; being led, used, and guided; having an inner purpose and a sense of personal vocation; and owning one's destiny as a gift from God. Learning that you are not in control situates you correctly in the universe. You know you are being guided, and your reliance on that guidance is precisely what allows your journey to happen. What freedom and peace this can bring!

But I must warn you: initially this new empowerment will feel like a loss of power, almost a step backward. You will now need a deepening of faith to go forward. The Twelve Step programs have come to the same counterintuitive insight. You must get through that most difficult first step of admitting that you are powerless before you can find your true power. As Gerald May, one of my own teachers, so rightly said, willfulness must become willingness in the world of Spirit:

Willingness implies a surrendering of one's self-separateness, an entering-into, an immersion in the deepest processes of life itself. It is a realization that one already is a part of some ultimate cosmic process and it is a commitment to participation in that process. In contrast, willfulness is a setting of oneself apart from the fundamental essence of life in an attempt to master, direct, control, or otherwise manipulate existence. More simply, willingness is saying yes to the mystery of being alive in each moment. Willfulness is saying no, or perhaps more commonly, "Yes, but. . . ." [1]

The needed virtues in the first half of life are quite rightly about self-control; in the second half they are about giving up control. That is a major switch and why I wrote the book Falling Upward. Initiation rites attempted to give a young man the essential life messages early, even before he was fully ready to hear them. Such rites universally tried to prepare a young man for what I call the great defeat, the necessary recognition that you are not really running the show, and any attempt to run it will ruin it. The intense self-will of the autonomous ego must eventually be disillusioned with itself.

Having control is a major desire and need in the early years of life, yet many hold on to it until their last breath. Try practicing to release control early; it will make your second half of life much happier. Practice in small ways, such as contemplative prayer itself, which is habitually "consenting to God's presence and action within," as Thomas Keating puts it. Gradually you will be ready for greater surrenders to grace, until you are finally ready for the big letting-go called death.

Powerlessness was often taught by subjecting the young seeker to periods of extended silence and solitude, usually accompanied by fasting--experiments in surrender, under-stimulation, and nonperformance--so one could plug into another and deeper Source. This normally had to be done in nature, so the young man could participate in something inherently greater than himself. The young man was also trained in very practical ways--shocking to us--by various forms of trial, communal life, and hierarchy. Somehow he had to practice not always getting his own way. The lesson was too central and crucial to wait for his marriage and children, failing health, or deathbed to teach him.

Surrendering to the divine Flow is not about giving up, giving in, capitulating, becoming a puppet, being naïve, being irresponsible, or stopping all planning and thinking. Surrender is about a peaceful inner opening that keeps the conduit of living water flowing. It is a quiet willingness to trust that you really are a beloved son or a beloved daughter, which allows God to be your Father and Mother. It really is that simple, which for the human ego is very hard.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Thanks COM - good stuff here!

in the first half of life are quite rightly about self-control
in the second half they are about giving up control

This is such a great way to look at "control"

Life has a way of throwing us the unexpected and while we have no control over that, we do have control over how we respond to it.

This reminded me of when I was a single mother. I lived in an apartment building that had some ground level apt's. that were for people with special needs.
There were 2 men that lived across from each other. They were both paraplegics. Both had accidents in their early twenties that landed them in wheel chairs.
These men could not be more opposite in their demeanor. The one was so happy and really enjoyed life, the other was so bitter.
One day I asked the "happy" one what made him so positive and he told me that he had no control over the accident that landed him in his wheelchair but he survived, he was alive. He said he knew he had a choice, that he could be depressed and angry or he could make the best of it and continue to live his life to the fullest. This man made a huge impact on me.


Well-Known Member
Thank you, all very inspiring and also a reminder to embrace life as it is and to let others embrace their own lives without my two cents.:sick: