During a conference last spring, I won the opportunity to pick a book from the freebie table. But the conference administrator decided to run the contest again – something about the numbers not being equal and fair to everyone.
I didn’t really care but when they repeated the contest – once again – I won. It seemed like a divine coincidence I shouldn’t ignore.
So I approached the book table and prayed I would make the right decision. Only one book seemed interesting, so I grabbed it and put it in my bag to take home.
Then I forgot about it. Months later, I pulled it out of my bag and started thumbing through it – then reading more closely – then highlighting text and writing in the margins.
This book has become a necessary piece of my limbo land puzzle. “Living into the Answers – a Workbook for Personal Spiritual Discernment” is now my traveling companion with journal prompts and prayers for spiritual direction.
Authors Valerie Isenhower and Judith Todd devised an individualized plan for discerning God’s will. With questions such as:
- What is God’s longing for you?
- When do you most sense God’s presence?
- How does God fit into your life story?
I was soon hooked into the value of this little workbook. After I finished, I put it aside for a while and last week – picked it up again.
One of the chapters held a keynote for me which became a prayer, a journal entry and now – this blog post. That keynote is the principle of Holy Indifference.
Ignatius of Loyola actually penned the term back in the sixteenth century – pretty smart for a dead saint. He described Holy Indifference as a state of inner freedom, openness and balance.
But Isenhower and Todd take the principle a bit deeper. Their idea involves a willingness to follow the longings of God for our lives so no matter what he designs for us, we are indifferent to our own versions.
To live within the balance of holy indifference, we determine that we don’t really care about the outcome of a decision. However it turns out – whenever and whatever God designs – is okay. We’ll take it – no matter what.
The point is not to worry about the results and not to lean on our own understanding or even our reasoning capabilities.
This practice of spiritual discernment shifts away from self and centers on God. When we come to a crossroads, we’re not afraid to follow him because we know he has the best in mind for us.
He has considered all our objections and all our feeble plans. He asks us to trust him with everything we are and all that we desire – to walk boldly into the future with him.
Every spiritual question seems to circle back to trust – at least in my life.
Can I trust God enough to move me to a place I will love – even if I can’t see it right now?
Will I trust that God has the best outcome already planned for me – even if it might include doing something I don’t like or giving up something I have treasured?
Am I willing to trust that God’s longing for me will eventually result in something good and beautiful?
Hmm. Holy Indifference replies, “I have considered all the options and God knows best. I will put myself and this decision into his capable hands and trust his heart.”
Sort of makes limbo land less threatening and the outcome more exciting.
©2016 RJ Thesman, Author of the Reverend G Trilogy
This sounds like a book I need to investigate for my own journaling library.
Yep – it surprised me! Rich in content and lots of opportunity for personal journaling.
Isn’t it interesting how you forgot about that book until the time was right? This reminds me of the yellow umbrella. You knew what you’d like and so did God. Like a good father, he found just the right one and proved He knew you well. This is one step beyond that. This time you wait to see what He picks out without stating the color or the conditions He needs to fulfill. Blessing awaits.
Thanks for the encouragement, SuZan. Yep – the blessing will be even greater b/c it comes straight from His heart.
Excellent post! The concept of “holy indifference” is also captured by with words like “surrender” and “acceptance.” But regardless of the terms, and as you’ve so aptly noted, it simply comes down to the realization that “God is God, and I am not” (to quote Stephen Curtis Chapman, from one of his great songs of the ’90s). Thanks for blessing us with this post.
Thanks for the comment, Mike. Holy Indifference has been a good reminder for me – to let go of my expectations and let God replace them with his perfect timing.
I am with SuZan – what we think of as ‘coincidence’ is actually God’s perfect timing. One of my daughters is a member of a religious community and a motto they have has become my own: “I take what is set before me”. The idea of Holy Indifference puts me in mind of that. Thank you so much for sharing this as a resource, and how positively it affects your journey.
“Take what is set before me.” Beautiful ! The trick is to take it with a grateful heart. Thanks for your comment.
I like “take what is set before me,” too with a “grateful heart.” It does make me chuckle when I remember not always being grateful as a kid for what was set before me. Hmmm. Sounds like a good blog post idea.
Funny how those creative ideas just keep surfacing. Go for it !