The Knight of Infinite Resignation
Updated: Oct 30, 2018
“Infinite Resignation” and the Five P’s
When a chess player knows he is beaten, he lays down his king, and admits defeat, it is said “He resigns.” When we are out of options, it is said we are “resigned to our fate.” Yet, resignation need not be the end, only a step in the journey.
In his book Fear and Trembling, philosopher Soren Kierkegaard observed that “Infinite resignation is the last step before faith.” In other words, we only choose to believe in something—or some possibility—greater than ourselves when we have come to the end of our rope, when we have surrendered to a Something greater than ourselves.
The apostle Paul wrote about this feeling of resignation in his letter to his friends in the city of Corinth. As he reflected on his visit with them, he wrote that, after getting kicked around in Athens, upon his arrival in Corinth he was feeling “weak” and was filled with “fear and trembling” (that is, in fact, where Kierkegaard got the title for his book).
Now, Paul was a very clever man. He was successful, highly educated, and well-regarded. Yet, when he set foot in Corinth he was off his game. The arguments and techniques he had relied on for years (his coping mechanisms) had not worked. He had reached the point of “infinite resignation.” In life’s chess match, he was ready to lay down his king and let God be God.
We often cast such moments in terms of despair and hopelessness. But could it be that such experiences are actually times when we are most open to new possibilities and surprising opportunities? Could it be that these apparent “disappointments” are actually “appointments,” seasons when some power greater than ourselves is at work? If so, how do we open ourselves to these new possibilities?
The key to capitalizing on these moments of infinite resignation is to consciously and conscientiously release what I call the Five P’s: our Pretenses, Prejudices, Prerogatives, Preferences, and Predictions. What do I mean by that? We will take that up next time . . .
We are on a noble quest. In fact, Kierkegaard was so taken with the concept of surrender, so impressed with the courage that it takes to be so open and vulnerable, he referred to people who reach such a point in terms of nobility—he called such persons “Knights of Infinite Resignation.” In the next blogs we will pursue this quest and explore the nobility and courage implicit in the Four P’s and the Knighthood of Infinite Resignation.