Why you need to love loosely

A friend recently put me onto this wonderful article by Anna Laughery in The Young Catholic Woman.

The author starts off by describing the kind of controlling attitude that many of us display towards love and towards letting God work in our lives. I wrote a blog post about this recently. However, Anna manages to convey this sense – which I have always struggled to describe – in a beautiful and articulate way:

There are two ways to hold something in your hands. Take some loose change for example. You can hold on to the loose change with all your might, fists clenched and knuckles white. You can clutch your clenched fists close to your chest and protect the change in your palms from being stolen, keeping them hidden from the world. You can hold them so tight the sweat from the anxiety and fear of losing causes the pennies to rust, the nickels to lose their shine and the quarters to grow clammy.  

Or, you can hold the change in your open palms. You can leave them out in the open for the sun to shine on, for them to be admired, and even for them to be stolen. You can let them breathe so they don’t rust or lose their sparkle, but are still at the danger of the elements. You can leave the fate of your little loose change to everyone and everything but yourself. 

Just as there are two ways to hold something in your palms, there are two ways to love. You can love tightly, clinging to the beloved with all your might. In this way, the thing which you love is safe; it isn’t going to be stolen or affected by external elements. But it also isn’t free. If you love loosely, there is and always will be danger. What you love can be taken or damaged, but it is also free to grow, change, flourish and be transformed by the Lord. 

I love this analogy because it’s incredibly difficult to describe this feeling of holding on tight to something which is ephemeral, thus making it even harder to explain why “letting go” of this intangible thing is so necessary to enable us to grow and mature emotionally and spiritually.

Going back to the example of the loose change, my question for you is this: How can the Lord turn the loose change in our hands into dollar bills, or maybe into something infinitely more valuable if we close our hands to him? This question of loose loving applies to every aspect of our lives: How can he take our dreams about our vocation and transform them into a radical adventure if we wrap our fingers in a death grip around them? How can he take our schedule and create spaces for his Spirit to work if we keep it under lock and key, away from his transformative touch?

This is what I’m always banging on about, but only because I really believe it’s crucially important. To surrender to God’s will for our lives is the only way to truly move forward. This doesn’t just apply to romance, of course, but to every single aspect of our lives. It’s also one of the toughest challenges we’ll face. But if we don’t try, we’ll forever remain stuck in our rut.

The author closes with this beautiful litany, written by the Sisters of Life, which I’m now taking on as a regular prayer – and I encourage you to, as well:

If surrender and trust is something you struggle with, use this beautiful Litany written by the Sisters of Life to enter into a more trustful surrender to the Lord:

From the belief that
I have to earn Your love
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that I am unlovable
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the false security
that I have what it takes
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that trusting You
will leave me more destitute
Deliver me, Jesus.
From all suspicion of
Your words and promises
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the rebellion against
childlike dependency on You
Deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances
in accepting Your will
Deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future
Deliver me, Jesus.
From resentment or excessive
preoccupation with the past
Deliver me, Jesus.
From restless self-seeking
in the present moment
Deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love
and presence
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being asked
to give more than I have
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that my life
has no meaning or worth
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of what love demands
Deliver me, Jesus.
From discouragement
Deliver me, Jesus.

That You are continually holding me
sustaining me, loving me
Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your love goes deeper than my
sins and failings, and transforms me
Jesus, I trust in you.
That not knowing what tomorrow
brings is an invitation to lean on You
Jesus, I trust in you.
That you are with me in my suffering
Jesus, I trust in you.
That my suffering, united to Your own,
will bear fruit in this life and the next
Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will not leave me orphan,
that You are present in Your Church
Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your plan is better
than anything else
Jesus, I trust in you.
That You always hear me and in
Your goodness always respond to me
Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me the grace to accept
forgiveness and to forgive others
Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me all the strength
I need for what is asked
Jesus, I trust in you.
That my life is a gift
Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will teach me to trust You
Jesus, I trust in you.
That You are my Lord and my God
Jesus, I trust in you.
That I am Your beloved one
Jesus, I trust in you.

Amen.

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