No, this is not a post about a specific diet or the inner workings of your digestive system. I’m talking about what you hunger for. I heard a quote by Thomas Merton that’s really got me thinking:
Your life is shaped by the end you live for, you are made in the image of what you desire.
Now I’m not sure who Thomas Merton was or what he believed. If you Google him you’ll be told that he was an Anglo-American Catholic writer and mystic. I’m not sure what that means but I think I understand more and more what he’s talking about. What is it that really motivates me? What’s behind my decision-making, big and small?
As a Christian I know what the answer is supposed to be and you can probably guess it, right? Yes, it’s God. That sounds simple enough, but any honest person will admit that this is rarely the case. I know some people, me included, who wake up many mornings with, “God this day and everything I do are yours”. No one thinks that every morning but let’s give people the benefit of the doubt. The questions is, how long does that last? How long before someone cuts in front of you in traffic, an annoying client just won’t let up, worries from yesterday about things that may never happen come back to haunt you… So yes, our initial intentions when we wake up nice and fresh may be very genuine, but they quickly fade into the murkiness of everyday life. Here are some of the things that drive me throughout the day:
Am I fulfilling my potential?
Now before you give me kudos for such a noble drive, let me elaborate. Doing your best is great, if it’s for God and other people. If it’s out of fear that you might be missing something, a need for recognition or the need to compete and win, it suddenly takes on a more tarnished look. Most of the time my problem is fear. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to do something meaningful. Yes I want recognition, but very specific recognition. I want to make a difference. The problem is sometimes the mundane is necessary to achieve greatness. I get really inpatient and when amazing things don’t happen, I start believing that I missed a step somewhere.
What are others seeing that I’m missing?
This is slightly more complex and subtle. Basically it starts with comparing yourself with others. If they’re successful and I’m not, I must have screwed up somewhere. If others get opportunities I would like, they must have deserved it more than me. I’m sure this sounds way more defeatist than I actually experience it, but it’s there, under the surface.
Is God happy with what I’m doing?
Again, this sounds good and righteous, but it’s self-righteous. It has nothing to do with God’s love. It’s about me, what I can achieve and the recognition I expect from him.
These are just some things that I tend to derail my focus from God onto the me highway, and I’m sure if I was deeper I could find more issues and go into a lot more detail. It’s the stuff I eat up every day, digest subconsciously and that works itself out through my thoughts and actions.
So after all that I’m back at my initial “ideal” answer: God. He still and always will be the answer. The more I’m faced with my own frailties and insecurities the more I realize how much I need him. Again, just knowing that doesn’t help that much but it’s a start. I’ve realized how important prayer becomes. I need to talk to God. Not just in the morning or just before going to bed, but the instant one of the me-factors rears its ugly head. Right then I need to look to God to help me, sustain me and guide. This may all sound rather analytical or maybe negative, but I tell you, it’s liberating. To know that I don’t have to figure out exactly what I’m doing and what the psychology behind it all is and that I can just tell God EVERYTHING and know that he understands and accepts me as I am, without reason, exception or prerequisites. He just loves me.