What does detachment look like?

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How do you know when you are “attached” to something or someone? When you have an expectation and are attached to a certain outcome and it doesn’t happen, you can experience disappointment, anger, hurt, sadness, confusion, etc. When you are “attached” to an outcome or a person, you tend to worry, obsess, ruminate, and try to fix, advise or rescue. Your mind is like a blender and you can’t shut it off. You want to control what’s going on because you think it needs to be changed and you have the answers. Can you relate?

When you “detach” from someone or something, you may experience disappointment at first when things don’t turn out the way you hoped or wanted. You know you have detached when you feel peaceful, a sense of lightness and rightness that things will turn out the way they are meant to. There is a freedom to own what’s yours and allow others to own theirs. When you practice detaching, there is an element of trust, surrender, and acceptance.

Detachment is not easy or for the faint of heart! It’s taken me years to learn and practice. It doesn’t mean I’m disinterested, not caring or that I don’t love the person or situation I’m detaching from. It’s not about caring less; it’s caring more about my own serenity. Detaching means I’m choosing to take care of myself and not willing to risk my own well-being.  It means I stop giving my power away and depend on what others do, say, feel or act to determine my peace and well-being. When I detach and don’t give advice, fix or rescue a loved one, I’m communicating to them that I trust their decisions and journey. It’s also respecting the person that their answers are inside of them.

Here is an example of detachment and a closed door.

Last year our friend, Kerry, nominated us to be interviewed and have our story and picture on the cover of a monthly magazine called Neighbors of Wailea and Makena. Every month they feature a person or family to share their story of how they got to Maui and how they support the community.

We were really excited when they contacted us to tell us that they were interested in writing our story, but we never heard from them again. We saw it as a closed door. Of course, we were disappointed that they didn’t follow up and choose us. Because we were both “detached” from the outcome, we let it go and assumed it wasn’t meant to be. If we had been “attached” to the outcome, we would have been angry and tried to push to have it written.

Last week, out of the blue, I received an email from the publisher of the magazine stating that we were nominated to be featured in the magazine and they wanted to write our story. They asked, “Will you accept the nomination?”  We were very surprised to hear from them a year later. At first, we were reluctant and thought, “What do we have to offer that would be of interest to our community?” We are retired and live a contemplative, peaceful life.

 As Larry and I went within to ask for guidance, it was clear that Spirit was inviting us to share our story of love, so we accepted the nomination. Although we are excited about this adventure, we are detached from the outcome and feel peaceful that whoever is meant to read it will read it. If our story can inspire one person to not give up on finding true love, it will be worth it. God’s timing is always perfect. It was a closed door a year ago and now the door was open for us to share our story in the magazine. I have had many open and closed doors on my path. It’s always reassuring to know that Spirit will close the door if it’s not for my highest good or the right timing.

Over 45 years ago, this little book called, “How God Guides Us by Don Basham came into my hands and changed my life. My spirituality is based on the principles of open and closed doors. When I don’t know if something is God’s will or my will, I pray, “God, open or close the door.” The author writes, “Closed doors are a valid part of guidance, when God closes a door, it’s because there is another plan, a better plan. If He closes one door, He’ll open another-according to His timing, not mine. I keep moving in faith, even in the face of closed doors.”

I may be guided to do one thing and then when I get there, God has something else in mind. He doesn’t tell me his full plan ahead of time, which is probably good. Guidance comes when I move in faith, not when I sit in doubt. I step out in faith, trusting that if I make a mistake, God will correct it and get me back on the right track for my life.

Here is an example of a closed door many years ago at the very last minute:

I could no longer afford the high monthly mortgage payments because of my impending divorce. If I re-mortgaged, I could get a lower interest rate and could then afford to stay living in my home. My soon-to-be ex-husband agreed to sign the necessary papers for me to re-mortgage.

On the morning of the closing, my ex called and said, “Sorry, but I changed my mind and will not sign the papers.” I couldn’t speak at first and was in shock. Then I screamed, “You have to sign them. I won’t be able to keep the house if I don’t re-mortgage now.”

I couldn’t talk him out of it, no matter what I said. I called the bank and asked if I could sign the papers without my husband’s signature. The answer was NO because his name was still on the house. Much to my dismay, the closing was canceled.

I was devastated and said to God, “I don’t understand, I trusted you were guiding me. Did I hear you wrong? Why did you allow me to go through all of this to close the door at the last minute? I want to believe you closed the door for a reason, but I’m having a hard time trusting now.”

A week later, to my surprise, I received a letter from the mortgage company informing me that the interest rate had gone down (on its own) because it was an adjustable mortgage. The payment was now the same as if I had re-mortgaged. I even saved a few thousand dollars in the process. God closed the door (through my ex-husband’s, last-minute postponement) to save me money.

When I walk in faith and trust, God always provides in His way and His timing. My faith is strengthened each and every time when I’m willing to wait, trust Spirit and His perfect timing. Nothing is impossible with God. Better yet, EVERYTHING is possible with God.

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Pat Hastings

Author, Inspirational Speaker, Spiritual Coach, Retreat Leader & Radio Talk Show Host

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