Leaving The Familiar for the New
During a counseling session many years ago, one of my supervisors for Clinical Pastoral Education pointed out something profound to me, and I've never forgotten it.
He told me that most people will stubbornly hang on to some of the most debilitating things--like anger, hatred, bitterness, paralyzing fear, grief... the list goes on and on.
My supervisor said that the reason they hang on to the very things that eat them alive, destroy their joy and peace is very simple: They don't know how to live without them.
One of the most difficult things to overcome is our fear of losing the familiar--even when what's familiar might be tearing them apart.
And it gets even more difficult when what is familiar isn't all that terrible. When the familiar is good (or good enough) most of us will hang on to it for dear life, even if we are given the opportunity for something great.
I've come to believe that following Jesus is an exercise in letting go of the familiar. In fact, Jesus shared this very thing with his followers over and over again throughout his ministry.
Check out this incredibly hard saying of Jesus from Luke's Gospel:
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple.
Yup. Jesus said that. It was intended to shock the hearer, or sure, but what Jesus meant was that you have to be willing to hold your attachments to this world loosely in order to strengthen your connection to the Divine.
Fr. Henri Nouwen put it like this:
Following Jesus is focusing on the One who calls and gradually trusting that we can let go of our familiar world and that something new will come.And something new is always on the horizon because God is always making new things and new people. You and I are given the opportunity to step fully into this brave and startling truth... if we are courageous and trusting enough.
May this be true for you today and every day forward. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.