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A Radical Approach to Faith: Indifference
Only by letting go of your own wants and desires can you finally see God's will for your life.
Faith in Indifference
As you discern in life, you will face challenges and find that God’s will is not always easy to see. Quite often, your greatest challenge - the very thing preventing you from seeing God’s will - is your own will and desires, and that’s where indifference comes in.
My first post titled “What is Directional Faith?” described St. Ignatius’s First Principle and Foundation, a basic map for the Christian pilgrim. But there is one part I left out because it deserved a conversation of its own:
Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things. (The Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola)
Let me highlight one particular (and challenging) part of that:
Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life.
Do I have your attention yet?
What is Indifference?
Indifference is the lack of preference for one outcome or another. Ignatius takes that to an extreme. He is telling you not to prefer health over sickness, or riches over poverty.
This goes against everything modern society will tell you!
Indifference is countercultural. In a world hyper-focused on your own wants, needs, and desires, Ignatius dares you to be indifferent. Instead, he asks you to give your life to God and to trust in His will for your life.
It’s natural to want to succeed, to find love, and to live a long life, yet your goal as a Christian is to not let those goals become what defines you.
Why Indifference Matters
Approaching life and prayer with indifference requires giving your full trust to God’s will. If you prefer one outcome over the other, then you haven’t let go completely, which will impede your progress.
In prayer, you promise to “surrender” to God’s will, but still secretly hope that it will lead you to financial blessings. You trust in God’s will for your life - as long as it’s a healthy one. In other words, your prayers come with strings attached.
On the flip side, you cannot prefer the worse option either. Some will want poverty, sickness, and to give up their lives as the ultimate display of pious religiosity. But is that really God’s will for them?
God’s will is not up to us. The sooner we accept that, the easier our faith journey becomes.
You may hope that God’s will aligns with your will, but instead, you should align your will with His.
This is not a simple task. Ignatian indifference is not natural. You will literally need to retrain your thoughts and emotions. When you pray, acknowledge your thoughts and desires, and then hand them over to God. Trust in His plan for your life. It may not turn out the way you hoped, but it might also turn out better than you imagined.
Remember, directional faith is about seeing how your life experiences, both good and bad, can lead you closer to or further from God. When you plug indifference into that equation, your prayers should not be for the positive outcome, but for the outcome that positively impacts your spiritual life. Instead of praying for the blessings of this world, seek the greatest blessing - a life with Christ.
With an indifference mindset comes the realization that the path taken does not matter - only the destination. Whether the road before you is smooth or rough, the journey will be worth it.
Now, go back and re-read “What is Directional Faith?” with an indifferent mind. Then leave a comment if this is beginning to come together for you.