Find Your Inner Iggy

Iggy’s Surrender

Question 3: What do you need to let go of?

ShieldShaking Off My Armor of Self-Sufficiency

by Paddy Gilger, SJ

Ignatius’s sword wasn’t just decorative. When he laid it at the feet of the Black Madonna it wasn’t a toy he was putting away; it was a weapon, one he had used before. Indeed we read in his autobiography that Ignatius had thought of running that very same sword through a man he’d met on the road just days before, one he felt had insulted the Virgin.

So why was Ignatius—this man upon whose words so many (myself included) have built our spiritual lives—thinking this way? Was he simply bloodthirsty? A thug-for-God?

I don’t think so. I think that sword, and the life of that sword, was all he knew. It was the only way to do the good things he wanted to do for God. And he gave it up.

I’ve had to do the same in my own life, and I’m sure you have in yours. For me it came (it comes, really, because the process is never over) while making the Spiritual Exercises during my first year as a Jesuit. I was in the first week of the retreat and praying about being a loved sinner. I’d been praying about this for days, with nothing but a dry heart to show for the hours. Not knowing what to do, I’d return to what I knew: action, imagining the great things I wanted to do for God as a Jesuit. I would cross and re-cross spiritual ground that had been fruitful a week before to no avail. Dry bones and dry heart persisted.

It wasn’t until I began to get desperate that I noticed I’d never even thought to ask—to beg even—for actual help. I think it took those days to realize that prayer, that being a Jesuit, that life, wasn’t something I could do alone. And then it took facing the fact that thought alone was insufficient. I would actually have to ask for help.

When those words came so did the rains.

I think all of us, in our moments of greater rather than lesser honesty, know what it means to put down our weapons so that we can follow God with fewer defenses, greater freedom, and more trust.

Life is more vulnerable lived this way, but it’s better. My life is better, God, when I’m willing to learn and relearn how to lay down the things I’ve used to defend myself. My life is better, Lord, when I am willing to lay down the habits of my life at your feet. Thank you for asking me to let go.

Iggy swims up to see Paddy Gilger, SJ, editor-at-large of The Jesuit Post.

Lakeside with Iggy and Paddy Gilger, SJ,


Fr. Paddy Gilger, SJ, lives and works at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He is editor-at-large for The Jesuit Post, and editor of the new book, The Jesuit Post: #Faith #God #Frontiers #Culture #Mystery #Love. Follow him on Twitter at @paddygilgersj. 

12 thoughts on “Iggy’s Surrender

  1. Mary Ellen Bleich Nolte

    I am not well versed in Ignatian spirituality, but greatly value my Jesuit education at Creighton University. Also my aunt Margaret Mary Wall BA’1939, and former husband Richard C. Settgast BSBA 1962, and daughter Ann Settgast MD 1999 are Creighton graduates.

  2. marlyn angeles

    I need to let go of my fear of doing and being something new. I realize that I may be stuck in my prayers because I too am stuck in my choices in my career or work. Now that I have retired, I still look to what I used to do and seek recognition for these. Yet my prayer life is pulling me to another direction. I now see that these are not what matter. And I seek to let go of these attachments and present to the Lord my self, His gifts to me that I may use them wherever He would want me to go. It is a new experience and I pray for perseverance, and to simply trust God.

  3. MaryKay

    Thank you for posting your topic, “Surrender” today. I have been so distraught over my child’s leaving us for school that I have not been able to sleep soundly in weeks. Pls pray for me and help me remember that God is in control, not me!

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  6. Teresa

    I need to let go of my past sins and forgive myself for the weakness, because God accepted my repentance a long time ago.

  7. Richard Burbach

    Thanks for a terrific post– the image of laying down our swords will stay with me for a very long time. I, too, am a very proud Creighton graduate (class of ’72) so I know quite well that Omaha in in Nebraska, not Iowa as you brief bio suggests. We only went across the River to drink because Iowa had a lower drinking age.

  8. Carolyn Doyle

    I’ve also found that I’m much closer to God when I let him organise me – I used to want to know what was going on behind the scenes, and life is a whole lot simpler when you let go of the need to feel in control (or just in the know) and let God take you where he wants you! #FindIggy

  9. NK Dunkerley

    finding out what I have to let go of –It’s daily, constantly, momently, over and over, unendingly, noticing in examen what is my “baggage” … those inordinate, unnecessary, silly-to-keep, foolish, distracting, danger-to-my-spirit, unhealthy, sneaky attachments.

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