Growth Through Removal (part 1)

Much of maturation is, somewhat ironically, more ridding than adding–the ridding of one’s self of inhibitors, more than the adding of virtues.

The other day, Zayra was looking for her school pants in the laundry basket, and after a matter of a few seconds, claimed, “They’re not in here.” (Fortunately, this only happens 400 times a month.) I then coached her to start removing items from the basket one by one until she sees what she’s  looking for. Seven seconds later: “Found ’em!”


In order to see something, whatever is obstructing it’s view must be cast aside.

I believe this to be the issue much of the time in our spiritual life. Most all of us have plenty in the way of information, doctrine, and even answers to prayer. Yet we still lack faith. We fail to trust. Why?

A significant portion of the time, I feel our view of Jesus is blocked. Blocked by the cares of this world. Blocked by Facebook. Blocked by Netflix. Blocked by SportsCenter. By people doing things we don’t like (that’s a big one for me). By bad habits. By gossip. By politics, news, meaningless discussions, and sometimes…church. I’ve been to many a Sunday services in which I actually felt distracted from God. Weird.

In a word, we are blocked from seeing God by attachments.

Much of what the Christian mystics have written of over the centuries is detachment. The more we possess, the more that possesses us, because there will be more that requires, at least on some level, our attention. And this is not merely material goods, though it is not less than that.

Habits of actions and thoughts can have their hooks in us so much so that they steal much of our focus everyday–focus that could be extended toward Jesus, toward the Holy Spirit speaking and working, toward those around us in great need spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

The more we can remove, the less there will be that will have a chance to greedily grab our focus each day. Then, the more energy we will have available for the One who deserves our full attention.

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