by Vinita Hampton Wright
Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
At the heart of Ignatian Spirituality is the concept of spiritual freedom. This is not the free-so-I-can-do-whatever-I-want kind of freedom—which really isn’t freedom but a form of self-centeredness. Spiritual freedom is the ability to do whatever is best and to make choices free of bias, fear, desperation, or clinging.
This kind of freedom is what happens when we trust that God really, truly, eternally loves us. We trust God enough to say, “Here is my life—do what you want with it.” This kind of freedom is ready to let go of self-sufficiency, self-delusion, guilt, and destructive habits.
Spiritual freedom grows over time and with practice. Sometimes a person has to say, several times in one day, “God, I’m willing to change. I’m willing for you to remove the bad stuff.” The truth is, we get used to a certain way of living, a certain way of thinking about life, a certain way of getting through the day. It may not be the best way to live, but we’re comfortable with it—it’s all we know. What might happen if God takes away all our props?
There are real questions to consider when we’re about to give God permission to change us:
- If God takes away my defects of character, what will be left? Will I still be me?
- If God asks me to live a different way, will I really be happy? What if I can’t survive living a different way?
- If God changes me too much, will I lose my friends? Will I lose the only community I have?
- Is God going to change me into a person I don’t even like? Some goody-two-shoes?
- What if I don’t ask God to take away my defects? What will my future look like then?
This is one of those situations when faith feels like a leap. We decide that it’s worth the risk to trust God. We trust God to take away what’s hurting us. We trust God to clear away the darkness and clutter so that the true person we are can finally show up.