Human beings are prone to addiction.
I don’t care who you are, or how much balance/temperance/ restraint with which you live your life. I KNOW you have a penchant for some thing or another. A go-to habit or vice that you know is, to some degree, unhealthy.
It could be as insignificant as nail-biting. It might be as serious as alcoholism or anorexia. But I know you have at least one.
Because we are needy creatures. All of us. Whether we are married or single, old or young, black or white, gay or straight, employed or not, we almost all have days when we feel something is missing; when we are longing for some unidentifiable “more.”
As a Christian, I thought that something was God. That we were made with a “God-shaped hole” in our hearts that could only be filled by a personal relationship with him through Jesus. Of course, I was always baffled as to why that empty feeling persisted even in the midst of my most fervent phases of Christianity.
I did have moments of freedom and peace. Moments when everything was so clear and light. I knew what really mattered in my life. I knew who I was and what I wanted. I was filled with love for the world and grace and forgiveness for its brokenness. I lost all sense of self-consciousness.
And those moments, as a Christian, did often follow times of extended prayer (in the form of journaling) or worship (in the form of singing praise songs), or an inspiring sermon.
They also happened after long hikes out in the mountains, long drives in the car with a good CD, intimate conversations with a close friend.
Before I stepped off the ledge and finally let go of my faith, I wondered if those moments of clarity and insight and absolute magnanimity and peace I had had would disappear.
Funny thing – they actually happened MORE frequently immediately following my de-conversion. And they happen now about as often as they used to. Maybe even slightly more. And that makes sense.
Because I’ve learned by experience that those moments were not brought on by some sort of increased mystical connection with God. They were produced by mental space and focus and a regaining of perspective.
When I have my “zen” moments now, when all seems right inside my heart and mind and in the world, it is after a good long journaling session, or a quiet day of gardening and organizing, or a heart-to-heart with a kindred spirit, or an amazing concert, or a powerful true story, or a bike ride out on one of Puget Sound’s beautiful islands.
These types of activities accomplish the same thing in my mind/heart/spirit that prayer-journaling and worship and Bible reading and sermons accomplished before:
They get me out of the crazy-busy world, out of my crazy-busy life logistics, and out of my crazy-busy head.
They quiet all the mental noise and help me realize that everything I have, I need; that everything I am is alright; that I need not live in fear of pain or loss or sickness or even death, because those things are inevitable. Worrying about them only increases their chances of occurrence, and when they do come, they can be dealt with then – one day at a time, with patience and mindfulness and compassion and love.
I do think we humans have a sort of “hole” inside of ourselves. Not a God-shaped one, necessarily, but a sort of empty-ness. I think at its root it is really the unfortunate tendency resulting from natural selection to want as much as we can get our hands on; to want the best for ourselves; to never be satisfied with what we have. And while this character trait has clearly been effective in helping our ancestors survive to pass along their genes, it also has resulted in a lot of inner turmoil.
And I think in order to deal with that inner turmoil – so we don’t get home from a stressful, painful day of life and eat an entire bag of chocolate chip cookies (my particular addiction of choice), or fry our brains on Seinfeld re-runs, or drink ourselves into oblivion, or cut ourselves, or force ourselves to run 10 miles on five carrot sticks, or finally end it all by jumping off a bridge – we have to raise our level of consciousness.
We have to realize this self-defeating character flaw we all have and rise above it. We have to let go of our selfishness and self-awareness and insatiable need for more. We have to step away into the quiet and take a good look around and see reality.
We have to tell ourselves, “Enough!” I have enough. Enough food. Enough clothing. Enough toys. Enough time. And I am enough. Pretty enough, smart enough, good enough, accomplished enough.
And then embrace life. Drink deeply of it. Of the beauty and wonder of the natural world, the awesomeness of the universe, the glory of humanity’s capacity for understanding, communication, exploration, discovery, creativity and survival. Of our own infinitely unique personalities and bodies and abilities and joys.
Hi. My name is Erin and I am a recovering human. It has been eleven days since my last cookie binge. I know there is a good possibility it will happen again. But by the grace of my mind and reason, I am living one day at a time to the best of my ability, letting go of my selfishness and desperate pursuit of More, reminding myself that there is Enough.
If you are on a similar journey, my heart goes out to you. Welcome to Humans Anonymous.