If we love God absolutely, why should we be picky and attached to anything else, except his manifest will for us? And how does God manifest his will? Is it not in our state of life, our duties, the exercise of virtue, and the various things that befall us according to his providence?
This is the background to a wonderful, exacting quote of Saint Francis de Sales, given in a sermon on the Assumption:
You will often see a man who has a great love for preaching. Forbid him to preach and you will see him troubled. Another who would like to visit and console the sick will not do so without anxiety and is even upset if he is prevented. Another has a great love for mental prayer, and although it seems that this regards only the spirit, nevertheless he fails not to be anxious and troubled if he is called away from it to do something else.
Let us think for a moment. Is this the way God wants us to be? No, of course not.God does not delight in such behaviour.
It’s not that God asks us to be “flexible” or to have no desires. That’s the wrong way to put it. For a while in life, I thought that was the meaning, and I made some bad decisions and obeyed some wrong spiritual direction; it caused me no small trouble.
We need to phrase the situation a bit differently. Insofar as we have any desire to do something because of ourselves and our attachments, rather than God’s will (our state in life, our duties, virtue, and providence), then we are doing it for ourselves. That’s the issue. And God wants better than that. He wants us to do it for him, not for ourselves and our delight and enjoyment. Of course, in dying to ourselves we will gain more. The cost is worth it. But God does ask for the cost. If we are attached even to our apostolate or our choice of good works and devotions, such that for no reason whatsoever we would be glad to give them up, then we are attached to ourselves and not to God.