Share this story

 | By Father Charles Irvin

Let go and let God

Reliance on God vs. self-control

How can we reconcile the meaning of the phrase “Let go and let God” with the virtue of self-control? Don’t the two ideas conflict with each other? Well, no they don’t because the two ideas are dealing with different aspects of living with ourselves and living with others.

Self-control is an attractive and desirable virtue. It involves discipline, the sort of discipline one must have in order to be successful. Take star athletes, for instance. They must have discipline and self-control in order to be the best in their sports. If they have no discipline and eat what they want, drink what they want, fail to train, fail to maintain their health and just “let themselves go,” they will lose their strength, coordination and all those other things that allow them to be the stars that they are.

The same is true in other areas, like relating. Can you relate to others in love and friendship if you allow your feelings of anger to go out of control? And then there are your feelings of resentment, or inferiority, or jealousy. As a matter of fact, all of your feelings, urges and drives have to be controlled if you are going to relate well with others.

I don’t mean they have to be suppressed, squashed or denied. I mean, rather, that they have to be channeled and focused. Feelings are not necessarily bad. But like the energy we call electricity, they have to be channeled and focused in order that they can energize us.

Letting go and letting God has to do with trying to manage outcomes. In much of life, all we can do is give the best of our time and energy to our projects and relationships, and then not try to control the outcomes. We have to recognize that we are not the center of the universe, that we have to fit ourselves into the larger scheme of things that exist outside of us, all the while remembering that God has his projects and plans too.

If we are going to live successfully and lovingly with others, we have to rein in our desire to control them. We cannot control what they think and what they feel, along with trying to manipulate and control their decisions. We have to respect their freely-willed choices just as God respects them. Does God control your choices? Why, then, do you think you have the right to control the choices of others around you? Or control outcomes?

Letting go and letting God means we have to treat others in the same way God treats them.