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Making More Space

Today’s post is by Jeff Nelson

A few years ago, our trusted MacBook of a couple years finally refused to turn on again. At that time we didn’t immediately have the resources available to purchase another one, but each of us—my wife and I—needed a working computer to get our work done. So we settled on a temporary solution: we each bought cheap PC laptops from Target, reasoning that we could make do with them until such time as we could get something of better quality.

It did not take long for the old adage “you get what you pay for” to ring true. The laptops only had 2GB of memory, which gave us enough space to download Microsoft Office, but not much else. And when we began receiving notices that software updates were available, we had to find ways to allow enough space for them to download.

In those instances, one has at least two options. First, you get rid of as much as you can: unnecessary files and programs that you’re not using or that you no longer need. Second, you make more space, which may involve the addition of an external hard drive or taking it to someone who can add more memory. Each can be important, and a combination of the two often seems to be the best solution.

When we find our inner lives not working as well, there may be a variety of explanations. Chief among them might be that we are holding on to parts of ourselves that are dragging us down. This may include traumas or sources of stress that we’ve never addressed in meaningful ways. This may include relationships that drain our emotional energy yet that for different reasons we don’t think we can just leave. This may include addictions, either of the kind society usually talks about or that are less recognizable. This may include material possessions that we have convinced ourselves we cannot live without.

Ignatius of Loyola called these “disordered attachments.” They are parts of our lives with which we have a relationship such that we can’t picture moving past or moving on from them. And so we hold on, perhaps even aware of the toll that they are taking on our connection to God and to others in our lives, but also convinced that things can never be different.

As with computers, we have two options with these unnecessary or destructive pieces of our lives. The first is to find ways to remove them; to free ourselves from their power over us (for many, this may be a lifelong journey).

The second is to create more space for what we need for our spirits’ nourishment. This may include more memory: recalling those times in our pasts big and small where God was present even if we couldn’t name it at the time. This also may include more data: practices that help nurture our awareness of God both then and now through things like prayer, worship, trusting in others for their affirmation and accountability, and service.

It didn’t surprise us when our new laptops didn’t last very long. We couldn’t make enough space for meaningful change to happen.

There is much more that we can do for our spirits, and it may begin with trusting God, each other, and ourselves enough to be honest about what attachments are slowing us down.

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