Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Friday, October 21, 2011

Strange Addiction

Something very interesting has been happening to me over the past few months. I've become addicted to something. This addiction has caused me to change my outlook on life- some in good ways and some in bad, depending on my mood and how often my cravings are satisfied. I'm sort of frightened by this addiction, especially in times when I forget to replenish my fix before it is completely gone. Because at those times I see the world as this squirming, dying mass of darkness, and despite the fact that my heart knows that it's not really that way in most senses, in those moments it cannot see otherwise.

It's a strange addiction because it's not chemical nor emotional. It defies all reasoning of any definition in which the world would normally categorize an addiction. It floats beyond that grasp of understanding; no check list of symptoms will suffice. It really cannot be properly diagnosed, though you can try. I could try.

So what is it that I am addicted to?

It's God. It's the Holy Spirit. The immortal and powerful Word which He gave to us as guidance for our lives. It's scheduling in quiet moments in which I spend time with Him, drowning myself in His radiant light, being filled up with grace and strength and purpose for His divine and perfect Will. I can't get enough of it lately. I am hooked.

I have recently tried to share this notion with several people in my life, in a more subtle way than defining it as an addiction, yet I was met with silence, much the same as I pointed out in this post. It's strange to them. They do not understand. I really don't blame them. I'm not sure I even do.

What I do know is this:

When I do not make time for prayer - and I mean real prayer, not just the "can you please let me have this, or will you do this for me" sort of prayer (which has its own place and time), but real deep silent prayer and meditation in which I open my heart to Him, empty out all the garbage floating around in my head, and bend myself to His Will - I feel peaceful. I feel a sense of joy that, regardless of whether or not I am happy with any particular circumstance or moment in my life, surpasses that fact and shines brilliantly to mask all the garbage that I just released. I feel sort of high. Really.

I then spend my day patiently attending my four small children. Lovingly and respectfully serving my husband. Motivated to do not just what's on my schedule but whatever else I can do to help our home run smoothly. I possess more strength to face the anxiety which has haunted me over the past few months years and can quietly subdue it into a corner in my mind without thinking it's going to attack me the second I turn my back. More than that, is the basic quiet gentleness with myself, and my new-found understanding that I am indeed the daughter of a King. I want to run to Him and spend more time at any spare moment of the day. To get my fill of grace and love. To get my fix.

And when I don't make time for prayer:

I find that when I haven't spent a lot of time in prayer and reading the Bible (I particularly like Psalms these days), I am crazy. Literally.

I lose my temper quickly. I do not like my children. The world seems to look like that dark mass of nothingness I mentioned in the beginning. I lose all sense of purpose and worth. Everyone is my enemy. I hate myself. And the most terrifying: Satan is laughing and giddy and smoking cigars in the corner, unloading all my garbage on top of me as he slaps himself on the back and high fives all the minions he has charged with wandering after me daily. Ugh. I can feel him sliding himself along the floor, inching closer to me and suffocating me with his thick despair. He paralyzes me.

Case in point: I did not spend a lot of time today in prayer. I hadn't yet read the daily readings that I usually do (which, by the way, are linked at the top left of this blog!). My kids were nuts doing what kids do, and I couldn't take it. I was really irritated. I snapped at them. I wanted them to get the heck away from me so I could do what I wanted to do (write my blog post). And then I realized I hadn't been talking to God today much. I went to my daily Mass readings linked here and read the readings and the gospel. I said a silent prayer for peace and grace. I felt much better. I was then able to patiently deal with two of my kids who had apparently sneaked the rest of my dark chocolate bar at some point today. Normally, this would enrage me, especially if I hadn't had my "fix" of God. You just don't mess with my chocolate! Nor do you do something you know is disobedient and disrespectful. But there I was, calmly doling out appropriate punishment for the partners in crime. When whining and crying and backtalk ensued, I was still able to lovingly and quietly tell them I was standing my ground on the punishment and that was that.

But you know, sometimes, I am unsure whether I like how this is. Honestly. Today I was thinking that if I didn't have such a need to begin my day in prayer and go to it throughout the day, I wouldn't have the downs that I do. (Many happened this morning) It makes me sort of angry. Because before it was not like this. Before when I was mostly unaware of this need and could go along as I pleased (something which I have found can be described as spiritual darkness), I found that even the bad times weren't as bad. Ignorance is bliss. Right?

Maybe not.

If I think about it, perhaps that is true for the most part. Perhaps the "bad" times didn't seem all that bad. But then again, there was a different direction for my life, one I'm not sure if God was heading up or not. But now.... now that I know my true north and am trying to follow it, the stakes are higher, aren't they? More is required of me so when I fail, I am punished more. Now that I know how I am to be, act, live, my Heavenly Father expects much more from me. It's kind of the same with older children vs. younger children. I expect my 7 year old to behave more responsibly than my 2 year old. If she fails, her punishment would be more severe than that of my 2 year old if she failed in the same way. My 7 year old knows better. My 2 year old does not. Luke 12:48 is a perfect verse to pull out for this: "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."

So, in essence, since I have been entrusted with more, He expects more from me than He did before. Once I came to that understanding, I was on a new level of expectations. And a new level of consequences. My "addiction" to spending time with Him is really just a new understanding of my calling as His beloved daughter. And the consequences that ensue if I fail are actually there to remind me that I need Him. Daily.

Addiction or not, it's what I need and though it might sound strange to some, what matters most is that you can't go wrong when you're addicted to God.

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