(This is the 2nd musing on the spiritual discipline of indifference. Read #1)
A student had told me that she thought the discipline of indifference came from St. Ignatius of Loyala. At my women’s weekend away last week, I Googled Ignatius and indifference and found a lot of materials which I shared with my friends.
When we weren’t debating my friend’s qualities for eHarmony (read here) or stuffing our faces with delicious food or being treated to a massage by our hubbies, we argued about indifference.
Here’s the conclusion from a pdf I found online:
Ignatian Indifference Brings Spiritual Freedom
For God’s love, for Christ’s Love I should be willing and prepared:
To be Rich or to be Poor
To be clever or to be dull,
To be handsome or to be ugly,
To be strong or to be weak,
To be attractive or to be repulsive,
To be educated or to be illiterate,
To be healthy or to be sick,
To be active or to be jobless,
To be considered or to be forgotten,
To be loved or to be ignored,
To be Successful or to A Failure,
To be honored or to be despised,
To be rewarded or to be passed over,
To be popular or to be unknown,
To have friends or to be lonely,
To live long or to die soon.
On neither can I set my Heart• • •
In both I can equally serve God
Each is a gift of God,
And as such of equal value.
This only truly matters
• To lovingly choose whatever God Wills
• And to generously carry it out,
• He loved me into existence,
• Because in Him I am, I move, I live.
The left side of the column ensnares, but the right side of the column hurts! It’s pretty hard to be indifferent to either.
Most of the debate came over whether God wills suffering—is loneliness or disease really God’s gift? Does God really see both sides having equal value?
But as one who’s spent a significant chunk of her life trying whole-heartedly to follow God’s will, I can say definitively that following God doesn’t keep you from experiencing the right column rather than the left. In Christian language, the right column is called “the way of the cross.”
To make matters worse, when I’m experiencing the left column, I can spend an awful lot of time feeling guilty rather than enjoying the gifts of God.
That’s why I love the idea of a website called happysaints.com! Given that most of those saints were martyred or suffered in terrible ways, to characterize them as ultimately happy feels encouraging! Because God promises joy whether you find yourself living on the left or the right.
Maybe the spiritual discipline of indifference to everything but God’s will is the path towards receiving the gift of God’s presence and joy no matter the circumstances. Maybe someday I too will be a happy saint!