Resting in a deep desire is painful.We have to let go of our other self-made desires, the good and the bad. We must let go of our dreams, our ambitions and our addictions. We feel emptiness. We experience want. But if we want to live for God, we cannot clamor to fill the pain with exterior things; otherwise we will again replace our deeper desires with superficial ones. Instead, we can only sit in the pain and ask God to give us the grace to grow into a place where all we want is God.
Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world.
A World of Addicts
We are all addicts. We all surrender ourselves to one thing, or many things, habitually or obsessively. Our dependencies range from the big to the small. For some people it may be TV, caffeine, an iPhone, another person, pornography, alcohol, or drugs.
Other people may have tight control on their exterior actions, but are addicted to anger, self righteous judging and other destructive patterns of thinking.
Our addictions can be interior and exterior.
Religion and Addiction
Belief in God and religious practice does not automatically rid a person of their addictions. This is evident in the behavior of allChristians who profess a faith in God but continue to engage in behavior harmful to themselves and to others.
In Christianity, we call this destructive behavior sin and from a psychological standpoint, if the sinful behavior is repetitive and compulsive, it also could be called an addiction, (I know I am not the only one confessing the same sins over and over in the confessional….)
United States of Addiction
Our sinfulness comes from our wounded human nature. We all have a natural tendency to do the bad that we do not want to do, as St. Paul says in Romans 7:19. But in addition to original sin, we also have the added difficulty of living in a culture and a time that encourages addictive behavior.
In the US particularly, people find happiness in fulfilling every whim, at every moment. Everything is immediate for us. Convenience is a way of life. Everything takes fraction of the time it used to take: cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and even communicating. These advances free up our time to devote to other things. But our focus on immediate satisfaction leads us to begin to live according to our superficial feelings.
Of course, feelings are not bad; they are given to us by God. But if we live purely by our immediate feelings, they become our gods. And if we indulge certain feelings over and over, we develop addictive, but depthless desires around these feelings. Who we are becomes about what we feel, rather than something deeper.
What Lies Beneath?
What is deeper than our superficial desires? Under our disordered desires, that are harmful for us, and our ordered desires, that are normal and healthy, there is one desire that is foundational to our very existence. It is a feeling everyone has buried inside of them. It is the root of all human desires –the desire for God.Some may call their deepest desire a desire for Love, Justice, Truth, or Happiness but our desire for God is really all of these things. It is in God that we can find our deepest happiness and where our deepest values and self identity are fulfilled. But even if we get in touch with our deepest, most foundational desire for God, it requires hard work, discipline and most of all grace from God to actually live out of this desire.
Advent and Addiction
Even though many of us know we should live from our desire for God, we still engage in mindless activity and a myriad of little addictions. I frequently end up filling my entire day with these activities and successfully dodge aesthetic living, aesthetic thinking, (even harder), and communion with God in prayer.
But if I make my mind, my body, and my heart slow down, I begin to feel the emptiness within me – all of the space within that is meant to be filled with God. With God’s grace I am able to resist the temptation to flee from this gnaw of desire. Instead I sit, like an empty cup, and ask God to fill me. I know that God is much bigger than me, but I ask anyway. I ask out of love, a crazy love for a God who I know is listening to me.
So this Advent, let us rest in our desire for God. Let us let go of all of our dreams, and embrace God’s dream for us. Let us acknowledge that we need to be filled, and the only thing that can fill us is God. Let us cast off all of the small and big addictions that are keeping us from the only addiction that is good for us – God.
God, please become my only addiction.