Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Spiritual Discipline of Indifference

You can run but you can’t hide.

For the past several weeks, God and I have needed to talk about my attitude problem towards a set of decisions Scott and I need to make.  As I wrote about yesterday in “Tempted to Join eHarmony,” Scott and are polar opposites on almost every spectrum that exists.  That makes decision-making especially hard. 

But like Jonah of whale fame, I ran around avoiding the conversation with God.  Last Tuesday, after a morning cancellation, I had 2 free hours that I just knew would be the opportune time to have a heart-to-heart with my Creator. 
What did I do instead? 



Printing of some documents I need for the Team Days I’m leading with my ministry team.

It’s amazing how much ministry, Bible reading, and even prayer you can do all while avoiding talking to God about what really matters in your life. 

I printed a document Adele Calhoun had sent me after our spiritual retreat on discernment with leadership groups.   They use this method with their elder board.  I want to help my ministry team become “kinder and gentler” because most of us are on the edgy, opinionated, plunge into debate side of the spectrum, and I want to welcome and attract staff who aren’t like us. 

So I read the document and half way through it talked about three kinds of prayer necessary for group discernment:

1.     The prayer of trust:  that we would know and trust that dwelling within God’s will is the very best place to be.
2.     The prayer of indifference:  that we would be indifferent to everything but God’s will.
3.     The prayer of wisdom:  that we would hear the wisdom of God’s will

The prayer of indifference??  Like Jonah’s aha moment as he sat in whale vomit, the prayer of indifference hit me between the eyes.

I’m indifferent to nothing!  I have a thought, opinion or passion on just about every subject under the sun.  In fact, this is part of why Scott gets so frustrated about our decision-making process.  I care about everything, and he points out that I can’t get everything I want by making a decision all by myself, let alone compromising with him!

Indifference is a hard word.  It seems antithetical to what humans should be.  Elie Wiesal says that indifference is the opposite of love, not hatred.  But in the prayer of indifference, we pray that we will be indifferent to everything except God’s will.  Jesus teaches us that the top 2 commandments are:

1.     Love God
2.     Love others

So unlike a Buddhist prayer of indifference where we detach from all things, the Christian prayer of indifference would be one where we furiously attach to what God wills, but become indifferent to everything else.


I haven’t yet gotten to the place of actually praying that prayer yet, but at least I’m thinking about it.   Which is probably better than avoiding God by just doing e-mail.  

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