What you do now matters in the long run. The decisions you make have power to them.
I would love to know how many people suffer from the same condition I suffer with… I call it; super-sizing. Everything I do is never enough. If I eat it has to be Thanksgiving and has to end with dessert, if I sit it has to be on an exercise ball for constant stimulation. If I work out it has to be for an hour with many sets and reps. If I eat a snack I have to eat three more. If I read a book it has to be the whole thing. If I play music in the car it has to be on full blast. If I drink an iced tea I’ll end up grabbing three more.
Stimulation. Stimulation. Stimulation.
Seriously, anyone else? If not, I’ll just write the letter for myself.
Stimulation is the evil twin to our lovable friend temperance (his homies call him moderation). The benefits of fasting from food, socials, even working-out just to reset myself back to normalcy are super helpful to cleanse me out of this stimulating behavior.
Moderation reminds me that my attraction to certain pleasure in morally GOOD things have to have a moderate balance. I should never over-stimulate my genuinely good and awesome desires to a point that leads me towards unhealthy lifestyle choices. Also, sometimes when we enjoy good things in a place associated with poor feelings, we associate those things to bad feelings. Moderation is good because we don’t want to have to remember feeling gross and bloated after every Oreo. We don’t want to associate certain foods with a certain memory (unless its a memory that brings hope and joy).
Sure we can fast from something and not touch it at all but if we fear things it might get us in trouble. Am I making sense? Ok, I hope so.
Moderation is really where the change happens. To touch, enjoy, and take in or act upon an attraction in it’s purest form is so simplistically beautiful it’s no wonder the Devil wants us to think what we have is never enough. He wants us to associate good experiences with doubt, fear, and shame or guilt.
Since I keep making these crazy decisions to super-size my life and my routines, the super-sizing BECOMES my routine and I am left bloated, tired, exhausted, and I start to think those good things are the enemy. They’re not, my super-sizing is. Really, to super-size anything should be a celebratory feast – not an everyday occasion.
So I decided to simplify my life and it turns out, moderation makes me extremely uncomfortable. And anything that requires change should make you want to crawl out of your skin into your own irritability.
It is not easy for man, says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, because being wounded by sin stops us from naturally maintaining a moral balance…. “everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, stay in the sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and shun evil.” (1811)
Moderation is good.
(That’s really where I should stop this article because it’s THAT simple… except I’m going to super-size the article with more details and words).
Too much of a good thing makes us unhappy. We think, for a moment, increasing crazy amounts of anything will leave us and our senses so completely satisfied we in fact find ourselves so unsatisfied.
*Sure, let me keep eating these M&M’s!*
*10 minutes later* down in a sugar coma.
I speak to you in the name of strength when I say: grab a hold of your passions before they grab a hold of you. Of course we are inclined to over stimulate our choices, that’s why we have the choice to either stand strong in decisions or to give into them. If it were easy to withdrawal from any addictive behavior we wouldn’t have any reason to talk about it.
Desires, pleasures, and things we’re attracted to are good and meant to be experienced. The Good Lord wants you to enjoy this beauty and life and have fun, but there is something so deeply unfulfilling about filling our appetites with too much of anything — and He knew that about us.
There is a wide, open, never-going-to-go-away hunger in the depths of our being. I’d go so far as to argue that most people don’t necessarily “love” their addictions but keep the behavior around for the “high” it keeps giving them in their pain. The emotional high that masks the greater invitation to embrace and wait in the testing, the loneliness, hurt, longing, or purging. God works best in our lives in the places that are barren. The places in our lives that can’t produce anything are where His creative touch comes into play and He fills us with love that surpasses all loneliness.
When we make time to open ourselves up to a new challenge, change, and consider way to re-order our thoughts we have to starve a little bit. Then we notice how much control we do have over them — even if it is just a little bit.
In my own life, food is the stimulant I turn to to mask everything. Long day at work: grab a snack. Annoyed with someone: grab a snack. Even if it’s little drinks or juices. It’s amazing what openness I have towards God, towards my own state of happiness, towards my own issues and struggles when I stop distracting it with my literal appetite.
Of course it is easier to keep super-sizing my appetites than it is to practice them in moderation. Of course it’s easier to just keep doing what I am used to than switch or decrease the amount of goods that I take in. Something in your mind, in your perception, in your appetites has to be re-educated and renewed. In my past, when I let my misinformed body believe that I could eat whatever I want, when I want, in however much quality I want, I ended up unhappy (and overweight). I had to reteach myself the truths about nutrition, the medicine of what food is FOR my body (not how it can make me feel) and allow myself to take pleasure in it with moderate enjoyment — which really ends up being sufficient enjoyment.
I think there is an overall agreement we can all make in knowing high school and college kids let their moderation fly out the window at the expense of drugs, alcohol, weed, and sex. I really have to ask what the deepest desires of the heart really is? I have continuously asked many friends, peers, young people, and older people (who look back on their young lives) and ask, “what was it that you wanted in those things?” Besides the fact that they are addictive in themselves, their answers are not the actual drugs, alcohol, sex, and weed, but the sense of fullness, love, affinity, distraction, and fill it gave their restless hunger. An ecstasy, an escape, a pressure, an experience of something greater than the actual thing itself. Something that was felt in the senses.
The human heart can make an idol out of anything. Someone once said, “idols are made in the human heart faster than the breaths we take” (or something like that?)
Our brains are hard-wired to attach. From the moment we’re born we attach to the sent of our Momma. Later any addictions, dependency, and attachment result as the same root that attaching to Momma did; to be filled with love. Not just the feeling, but the fulfillment. Love is always the inexpressible desire that needs a sense of fulfillment. We keep searching for it and trying to satisfy it. We are a humanity that thrives and survives off of worshiping something…. (sooo why not let it be God… ). Worship of anything motivates, opens, and breathes desire back into us. It’s what gets us up in the morning.
We are so sneaky sometimes. We are so sneaky to just keep stimulating ourselves to distract from the core of our lives —- which is love. At times we are not even sneaky, we are just in a world where there are desirable things to get caught up in. We are more subjected to ignorance and prone to being weak than we are to be strong enough to do things right, and in moderation. Training our head, heart, and actions in the virtuous life Christ invites us to can shift the weakness and turn it into strength and even heal the wounds from the past.
Christs code of morality and moral living doesn’t suppress freedom, it awakens it. It invites us to live in the kind of love that is true and beautiful. True because it not affected by feelings of shame and guilt. Beautiful because it is pleasing to the senses.
Our reality is like the song Hunger by Florence Welch.
I thought that love was in the drugs
But the more I took, the more it took away
And I could never get enough
I thought that love was on the stage
You give yourself to strangers
You don’t have to be afraid
And then it tries to find a home with people, oh, and I’m alone
Picking it apart and staring at your phone
Christ, whose love required the most strength, embraced the greatest hurt (physically and mentally), was such a powerful vessel of love that death could not even hold Him down. Christ: whose sweetness converted prostitutes and cleansed corrupted hearts of murderers. Christ: who silenced the temptations of sin and grave evil by a single glance. Christ: who was raised to life again and proved there is no rival or equal.
And THAT same Love exists for us to consume by food, wine, reading, speaking, and praying if we want. To live in a world created by a God who placed in us a desire for Himself and to seek and find that desire in completely destructive things is so simple that it’s so hard.
Throughout all of history humans have been on a quest for God in prayer, meditation, “vibes” and even in the drugs, alcohol, food, and sex. These forms of expression, hunger, despite the ambiguities they often come with, are so universal that it is right to say man is a religious being capable of depth and eternal realizations, and most of all a relationship with God Himself. “But this intimate and vital bond of man and God can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man himself (GS 19).”
The minute we neglect to keep in mind who God really is and experiencing personal love from Him is the minute some other thing takes His place.
Think though. If one day, after 10-30 years of never exercising, you decide to start exercising, you won’t be shunned or taken away from the opportunity. You just need to pick up the routine and incorporate it into your decisions throughout the days to come.
God works the same way.
And there really is infinite amounts of truth you can discover about Him which makes the adventure so inexhaustible. Not to mention the insane realness you start to embrace by being so ridiculously in love with who you have always longed to be..
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.We are far too easily pleased.”
With all the love I have,