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Benevolent Detachment



“Over time I’ve found no better practice to help clear out my cluttered soul than the practice of benevolent detachment.” 

John Eldredge 


Benevolent detachment is a way to let go of things that you have tightly held on to or release yourself from things that have had a hold on you. Benevolent refers to the way you are letting go and releasing – it's done with kindness, compassion, and graciousness. Sometimes I care too much about something I’m responsible for or someone I love and it’s in times like these I say to God, “I release everyone and everything to you.” I can’t carry all the emotional weight, but God can, so I turn the situation and my loved ones over to Him. I’m encouraged by these words in 1 Peter 5:7. “Casting all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.” 


Releasing does not come easy to me. I hold on partly because of my loyalty, being “all in,” and what I’ve said yes to I’m devoted to because of my responsibility strength. So, when God asks me to let go, He sometimes must pry one finger open at a time, until I release my hold. I’ve looked at detachment as a negative rather than the positive it can be. I’ve focused on what I’m losing rather than what I could be gaining. 


God is showing me that benevolent detachment is a gift, not something to avoid at all costs because it’s painful, but that it is for the benefit of everyone involved. Goodbyes release us to say hello to new adventures and people. Hellos and goodbyes are about God expanding our capacity and areas of influence, just as He did in our moves to different cities. I’ve also confused letting go with rejection, which has caused me to hold on too long for fear of not wanting others to feel rejected. But releasing someone differs from rejecting them. 


God has directed me to release many of those I’m mentoring to make more room to write. I will miss being with them, yet I trust God’s nudge toward benevolent detachment. Ann Voskamp writes “Sacrifice is about detaching from one thing – to attach to a greater thing.” And the greater thing is God. In this light, benevolent detachment for greater attachment to God motivates me to obey Him. What is it you need to let go of to have a greater attachment to God?


"The ability to let it go - not so much physically but emotionally, soulfully...We are aiming for release, turning over into the hand of God whatever is burdening us and leaving it there.” 

John Eldredge 


Relevant Reflection: 

In what areas is God asking you to practice benevolent detachment? 


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