Fiat: Better Than Whatever

Written by Elizabeth Torsell

February 3, 2021

When the Villains are Beautiful

Fiat mihi secundum verbum Tuum + Be it done unto me according to Thy word1​

Reach back into the archives of childhood, and find a time that you really, really wanted something, but it was denied you. Perhaps you still feel the ache of disappointment as you relive that event. In that moment, how did you respond? How did you cope? Chances are your response was a childish one, not yet tempered by discipline and experience: “Fine! Whatever! I didn’t really want to play with you anyway!” Or, if you were a less spirited creature, “oh well – *sigh* – I guess I’ll just play by myself…” This is the ​whatever ​reaction to the will of others in opposition to our own. It is a coping mechanism; an attempt to salvage what remains of our thwarted desires.

Recall another time at which you and your companion desired to dine at different restaurants, and you conceded out of consideration for that person: “No, really – let’s eat wherever you want to go.” This is the ​fiat​ reaction to the will of another, in which love (more specifically charity) moves us to choose that which we would not initially have chosen. The lover says “thy will be done,” even if it goes against his will.

How many times do we still respond with ​whatever​, when we could be responding with ​fiat​? Those embarrassing responses that we had in childhood unfortunately still haunt us today. In a climate where pleasures are low-hanging fruit on trees of entitlement, and egos grow fat on social media, disappointment becomes a stumbling block. While we may not display our displeasure publicly, we may not​ ​handle it properly, either.

When the will has been opposed, the emotions surge: anger, humiliation, irritation, longing, even despair, as the case may be. Do we jump on them, restrain them, and shove them into the “whatever” sack before they can do any perceptible damage? Or do we let them hit us, acknowledging the full force of the pain, but choosing to surrender ourselves in that moment, steady in the belief that “all things work unto good for those who love God?”

The mercenary says “whatever.” He is just trying to get through his mission without too many displeasing,inconvenientcasualties.​Fiat,​ on the other hand,​​is a complete and perfect abandonment to the Father’s will; an acceptance and embracing of His reality with our bodies, minds, and souls. While there may still be pain, there is also a beautiful peace – the peace experienced by those who cease trying to save their lives, faces, and desires by their own power, and trusting in the love of their Father Who knows their every need and want. Love redeems our disappointment.

“Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows.”2​ ​ By clinging to our own wills in opposition to God’s, we drive the dagger deeper, introducing the poison of selfishness into our emotional wound where it can fester and do greater damage. In contrast, ​fiat​ allows God’s grace to fill the wound, healing, strengthening, and restoring peace in the midst of suffering.
Fiat​ is a grace and a gift, but it is one that requires our cooperation. We must make the decision to surrender, to love, to live in the fullness of reality in the midst of our daily battles. How much suffering is wasted because we try to ignore it, or numb it, or try to fight it! Let us pray for the grace of ​fiat​. Let us live our days in holy hope that our disappointments are not in vain, but are rather a tool of the Father for conforming our wills and loves to His own.

1 From the Angelus Prayer, drawn from Our Lady’s response to the angel at the Annunciation (Luke 1:38, RSV)
2 Psalm 16:4, RSV.

Post Script: I feel compelled to mention that ​fiat ​is not always an arduous negation of our will in favor of the Father’s. The main focus of this article is to call our attention to the helpfulness of surrendering in moments of adversity, but such surrender is also the perfect response in moments of joy: “​Fiat ​- I delight in this morning coffee, Father! I thank you for this beautiful friendship; I praise you for ordering the events of my afternoon better than I could have imagined!” ​Fiat ​is the means of placing ourselves peacefully within the Father’s will, whether by gracious acceptance of His the consolations, or by trusting submission to the sufferings.

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