How much do you trust God day to day? Karl, my husband, shared with me a list of “six words of advice” from an Indian Buddhist teacher, Tilopa. (Perhaps he thought I needed them…) I’ve found myself thinking about these words frequently. Perhaps surprisingly, I think Christians in ministry can use these words to let go and trust more. And I think most of us do the opposite much of the time.
Here are the “six words:” (from this Wikipedia article)
1. Don’t recall
2. Don’t imagine
3. Don’t think
4. Don’t examine
5. Don’t control
1. Don’t recall. Or, “Let go of what has passed.” We are constantly going over and over in our minds things we have done, things others have done, how everything could have been different, if only. I would love it if we could all trust God to handle the past: the glories, tragedies and simple blunders.
2. Don’t imagine. Or, “Let go of what may come.” We are constantly imagining the future – what could go wrong, or what we want to happen. Visioning has its place, but going over and over in our minds can take up a lot of energy. We can trust God with the future.
3. Don’t think. Or, “Let go of what is happening now.” I don’t think this means don’t use your brain. It means you don’t need to engage in the constant repetitive analysis of what is happening now.
4. Don’t examine. Or, “Don’t try to figure anything out.” You know the constant running dialogue in your head: “What do you think they mean by that?” Or, spending too much time trying to figure yourself out. Self-reflection has its place, but I’m starting to learn the value of simply experiencing God’s love for myself and others, rather than ruminating about my own and others’ behavior.
5. Don’t control. Or, “Don’t try to make anything happen.” Church leaders and clergy in particular, (myself included) like to control. We want other people to do what we want them to do, and we do all we can to make that happen (typically, not that successfully). This may seem counter-intuitive – it is certainly counter cultural. But letting go of what we can’t control (most things) is a key spiritual practice.
6. Rest. Or, “Relax, right now, and rest.” The church leaders I know are not great at resting and relaxing. Most of us could use more rest in general, and we can all rest in the moment. The Psalmist says, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.” (Psalm 127:2, NRSV)
What do these words bring up for you?
And what are other ways you’ve found to live out of trust in God?