Benevolent detachment – the practice

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By Dave Henning / August 3, 2020

“Over time I’ve found no better practice to help clear out my cluttered soul than the practice of benevolent detachment.  The ability to let it go, walk away — not so much physically but emotionally, soulfully.”- John Eldredge (emphasis author’s)

“Thou must be emptied of that wherewith thou are full, that thou mayest be filled with that whereof thou are empty.”- St. Augustine

John Eldredge continues Chapter 2 of Get Your Life Back as he discusses an internal way to remove clutter from your soul.  Clutter that accumulates there like the junk drawer in your kitchen.  Like that black hole for the flotsam and jetsam that piles up over time, your soul pulls in stuff like a magnet.  Therefore, John exhorts, you need to clear out your soul with the practice of benevolent detachment.

Certainly, we aim for release as we turn over into the hands of God all that burdens us.  And leave it there.  Yet, it’s quite easy to get caught up in this drama in unhealthy ways.  As a result, then, we find ourselves unable to see clearly, set boundaries, and respond freely.  In regard to relationships, psychologists refer to this as enmeshment.  Hence, John explains how he defines benevolent detachment:

“Detachment means getting some healthy distance. . . .  I use the word ‘benevolent’ in referring to this necessary kind of detachment because we’re not talking about cynicism or resignation.  Benevolent means kindness.  It means something done in love.  Jesus invites us into a way of living where we are genuinely comfortable turning things over to him.”

Finally, John observes, people desperately seek the feeling of carefree.  Also, he believes all of our dissociative patterns signal this — video games, the virtual reality craze.  And that’s why the helpful book Boundaries and the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen remain so popular.   However, this saving grace John speaks about differs radically from Elsa’s angry and defiant stance.

Today’s question: How might you apply this detachment in your life?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Find God and life and restoration”

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Dave Henning

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