My old church had a saying: “Let go, and let God.” Even though I was pagan while attending said church, I always loved that saying, and tried to apply it in my daily life.
It’s difficult. Letting go and letting the gods. Putting faith in anything except yourself. When you spend [what feels like] your whole life being let down by people, or having things be out of your control, you turn into a control freak even if you never had that in you.
My friends used to joke that I was Monica, from Friends. They were right. (Except, you know, I’m still fat, and that’s okay.) I was a total control freak. I didn’t like anyone taking over anything in my life. Ever. My need for absolute control over all aspects of my life extended to the point where if someone complimented my current hair color, I’d bleach it and dye it something different. I needed to be counter to what everyone wanted for me, because that was the only way I could control my own life.
This sort of attitude actively strangles spiritual life.
Because the need to be in so much control takes away your ability to trust. To trust yourself or your gods. If you can’t trust yourself, if you can’t trust your gods, if you can’t trust the people you’re doing ritual with if you do, indeed, do ritual with other people, then you can’t connect.
Being in control means being closed down. Spirituality requires openness. You can’t be open to how spirituality can impact your life if you need to be in control of everything, all the time.
There’s a reason tales of spiritual enlightenment, or awakening, are accompanied with chaos. Chaos brings clarity in these stories; it disrupts the order around the main character’s life, and when that control is disrupted, true spiritual change comes about.
Order is all well and good, but when it becomes control and order for their own sakes, it stagnates. Are you in control because these are things you need to be in control of, or are you in control because you can’t let yourself let go of anything? Do your fingers have a death grip on life going the way you want it to go?
Let go, and let the gods.
When I finished Spring Mysteries Fest, I waited for my mom to pick me up so we could continue our adventure south, to San Francisco (to check out grad schools). I waited for six hours for mom to pick me up. (There’s no bitterness here, and my mom’s not a bad person. I’m just telling the story.) She missed a ferry, I think, and possibly got lost.
I was facing the prospect of sleeping there another night, after everyone had gone (I thought). I didn’t worry about this. I just figured I’d go back into the barracks and curl up on what had been my bunk, and mom would find me in the morning. I worried more about what had happened to mom — she had no cell phone, and I had been out of contact with her since the previous Thursday.
Turned out the cast for the weekend — ie, the people who had “played” the gods at shrine time and other activities — were still there, in another cabin off to the side. They saw me waiting outside the barracks, came over and got me, and told me that I could stay with them that night, eat their food, etc if I needed to and the next day, if my mom still hadn’t arrived, some of them were driving back up to Vancouver and they’d take me with them.
The gods provided for me. Quite literally, in this case.
The more you let go, and let the gods, the easier it becomes to deal with life’s changes. Because life will kick you in the ass with unexpected fuckery. You can’t prepare for this, but you can make it easier to deal with.
So let go. For ten minutes a day, let go of something. Let your expectations fade away. Let something go the way it’s going to go. Relinquish your control.
(I realize this can be incredibly frightening, to the point of inducing panic attacks. I’m not advocating dangerous behaviour. I’m saying, find a place where you can let go, in the safety and comfort of people who love you, and give it a spin. It will be frightening if you are not used to letting go. That’s unavoidable. But there’s a line between ‘scary in a liberating way’ and ‘panic-attack inducing’. You know that line for yourself better than I do.)
It’s not easy work, but it’s necessary. And never-ending. As more things happen in our lives that make us feel out of control, we exert more and more control over everything we can, and if gone unchecked, we shut down our spirituality. This may be a source of spiritually fallow times. I know it probably is for me.
As for myself…. Today is my twenty-sixth birthday. I’m going to practice letting go [of my issues with not having accomplished as much as I wanted to by now; of my panic over moving; of my worries about the coming year and my new adventure in university; of speculation regarding what storms I'll need to weather in the near future, as I've been told I will by an oracle; etc, etc, etc].