Addicted To Self?

Did you know that you can become addicted to the way you look at life?  And by "addicted" I mean actually addicted.

It's true.  Psychologists and therapists have discovered that non-substance addiction happens on a cellular level, just like substance addictions.

According to the psychiatrist and spiritual director Gerald May, addiction to money, power, and relationships have the same effect on our nerve cells as addictions to substances.

But he also says this:
"... even if we had been talking about addiction to images of ourselves or of God... we could have said much the same about what happens to our nerve cells."
In other words, if you view the world, yourself, even the way you understand God in relation to yourself in unhealthy ways---you can become addicted in a very real way.

What this means is even though you may know deep down inside that the way you are seeing the world is off-kilter... or how you react to conflict is destructive... or the words coming out of your mouth are hurtful...

You can't seem to help yourself.  At some level, it meets a need, and so you just keep doing it.

Psychologist David Benner defines addictions as "strategies to avoid human vulnerability and risk," and then adds that:
What we are most deeply addicted to is trying to escape the limitations of being human by playing God. 
We've been at this for a long time.  If you go back to the Genesis account in the Hebrew Scriptures, you find the story of our life right there.  When given the chance to choose abundance and fullness of life, or... not that, we so often choose poorly.

Jesus reset all of this for us.  The accounts of Jesus' life, ministry, death, and resurrection are filled with the kind of radical hope that addicted people desperately need.

Over and again, Jesus demonstrated what it looks like to live an integrated life, free from addiction to self, and selfish motives.  And as difficult as it may be to try to live like Jesus, it's worth it to try... every day.

If you have been mired in the kinds of addictions that have kept you from being your best self, take the first step to start stumbling after Jesus and you'll discover the joy that comes from being set free.

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.


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