August 7, 2011
Most of us outgrow the idea that might makes right. As adults, even when our self-control is tattered and ragged, we sense that having the power to take a given action does not mean that doing so is wise, or, for that matter, that the action if taken will serve our own best interest.
We are slower to question our primitive belief that our needs are self-justifying. Sometimes well into adulthood, we presume that our needs presuppose the license to satisfy those needs by whatever means is available (particularly if it requires minimal effort). While we may not say so directly, we organize important aspects of our lives around the unspoken principle that the primary purpose of life can be reduced to getting what we need.
In effect, we behave as though our basic needs are the substance of the imago dei [the image of God in us], and that therefore, all activities dedicated to meeting our needs are therefore legitimized (i.e., we are simply doing what God designed us to do).
Unfortunately for our uncontrolled creatureliness, it doesn’t work out that simply. We learn, sometimes through bitter experience, that denial of needs leads to a desert of disconnection with both ourselves and others and to slow death by starvation. But we learn as well, often through equally bitter experience, that uncontrolled, unprincipled self-satisfaction leads to a bloated spiritual obesity that clogs the very heart and arteries of the soul.
What does it mean to protect myself against myself?
Perhaps a plan that leads both to safety and to wholeness begins with two difficult questions.
How do I identify what I need?
How do I measure how much is enough?
Thinking with you about the paradox of fullness and deprivation in the context of becoming whole.
See you next week.