It is desire that leads to choice. To understand the choices we make, and prepare to make new ones, we must understand our desires, and prepare to reform them. …
The clearest message from our society today, and the values that shape the advertising that tries to seduce us, is that we will be happier if we have more. It’s subtle, but consistent. If some is good, more is better. It seems so natural to work hard to earn more so that I can have more. We acquire and consume and become addicted to some bad things, but normally we just adopt a life style that fits what we can afford. And, it’s not just things that we accumulate. We experience a desire to gather accomplishments or attractive relationships – other indications of our success. What is closely associated with this movement is the inevitable connection between what we possess and our identity. It’s tempting to think that we are more, because we have more. We judge each other by these measures of success. And, while there is nothing inherently bad about having things or achievements and the recognition and adulation that goes with them, they can seductively lead to pride, arrogance, and independence from God. Riches, leading to honors. Honors, leading to pride. This is a pattern of desiring we want to understand, insofar as it is at work in us.
This really spoke to me all week, as I reread it and reflected on all the ways that my desires lead me away from God, the ways they make me different than Jesus, the ways they ensnare me in the things of this world.
The following prayer was also a part of this week’s guide, and I found myself coming back to it:
I turn to you in such humility. I am so drawn to the kind of life you led on earth but it seems impossible for me! I am so caught up in the most subtle kind of struggle: a few honors or awards here or there are nice, but it’s never enough. I want more honors, more recognition. I have restructured my life to fit the opinion of the world and slowly I have drifted away from the kind of life I want to lead.
I ask myself: what can it hurt? At first it’s just some applause, some people telling me how wonderful I am. But then I read the retreat guide for this week and I know what is wrong; how subtly the world has changed my viewpoint. Suddenly I am the honors and awards and if they stop, what will become of me? I have lost myself in this career-climbing, out-of-balance life. It’s not that my job is bad or even that the honors are harmful: it’s that I have lost my perspective. Dear Jesus, ask God to help me to resist the things in this world that keep me from the humility and poverty of a life like yours.
Jesus, may all that is in you flow into me…. [Text of Soul of Christ.]