Detachment from stuff — the true spirit of humility

What do you think all these words have in common: fear, anger, jealousy, guilt, frustration, sadness, misery, possessiveness and materialistic? These “could” all be used to describe the way we feel about our attachment to things. Not that having the things in life that make us happy is bad, but do you rely on them to obtain true happiness and joy?

What’s common about these words: focus, relief, freedom, acceptance, peace, love, truth, insight, wellness and forgiveness? These could all be used to describe how we feel when we detach ourselves from our attachments. We discover quickly that detachment does bring happiness. “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5:3).

Choosing attachment to Jesus Christ is detaching ourselves from the things of the world. To be poor in Spirit does not mean that we see ourselves as the world sees us, but rather as the Lord sees us. We are hopeless apart from Him, but with Jesus, we realize we can do all things. When the Holy Spirit fills us, we realize that the values of this world are only cheap substitutes for what God has to offer us. When we are attached to the things of the world, the things we think make us happy, the world is saying “Do your own thing. Be self-sufficient, self-reliant. Be your own person.” Hmmm ... that doesn’t sound so bad, you might be thinking. 

But, is that what God really wants of you? Or, rather, isn’t it better to depend on God and the plan He has for your life? God does not expect you to make it on your own apart from Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; on your own intelligence do not rely” (Prov 3:5).

We all suffer for many reasons: our mistakes, or someone else’s mistakes or injustices. So does that mean we should find happiness at any cost, even if it means that those we love will be hurt by our actions? The world will tell us to do that: Feel depressed? Go shopping! Feel guilty? Blame someone else! Feel frustrated? Take it out on your friend! You see where this is leading? We must understand that though our hardships might not go away, we will receive strength, encouragement and hope to deal with them. This is when we must take ourselves off of the throne of our own hearts and put Jesus there. Then we will find real happiness. 

Imagine spending less time on your computer, smart phone or playing video games. Now use that time to connect, or reconnect with your family and friends and create deeper relationships. Have you tried breaking out of your routine and ended up meeting someone or a group of people that you made an awesome connection with? New can be scary to some of us but connection is something everyone wants. Give yourself the room to experience it. That’s detachment. That’s humility.

It may go without being said that the emotional baggage many of us carry around has a huge effect on our health. What happens to the mind has an effect on the body. When you release this energy and release the attachment to stuff, you experience the emotional freedom you really want. That’s the experience you really desire. This is the place where you start to nurture your body because your mind is released from stuff.

But, what is the best result of detachment? It is love! I imagine that some families have argued over the stuff of loved ones who have passed away. Can you imagine the deeper connections and love that could be replaced if everyone practiced detachment of stuff? Or what about the father who spends too much time at the office away from his family because he’s attempting to create more stuff in their lives? The true spirit of humility is real love for one another.

So ask yourself what you’d be willing to detach yourself from, even if for only a short while. Share it with your family and tell them what your desired outcomes are. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with the Beatitudes — eight ways to be happy without attachment to any stuff. Imagine how cool that would be.

God bless!

Anchor columnist Ozzie Pacheco is Faith Formation director at Santo Christo Parish, Fall River.

© 2018 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing   †   Fall River, Massachusetts