Have you ever stopped to notice the multitude of desires you experience each day? They can be as minor as for pizza for dinner that night, or as important as a desire for relationships or experiencing more joy in life. Advertisers and marketers play on these desires of our hearts to influence us to want whatever product they’re selling. They make promises that we’ll be happier, more attractive, or more successful when we purchase or use their product.
I recently listened to a sermon by Tim Keller of Redeemeer Presbyterian Church in New York City that spoke to this area: the feelings of desire or longing that overtake us, leaving us feeling unbalanced or as though we don’t have enough. He shares a Bible passage from Numbers that takes place after God’s people, the Israelites, have just been released from slavery in Egypt. In the course of the chapter, the Israelites complain about the lack of variety of food they are eating in the wilderness. They desire to return to their slavery in Egypt because they had access to meat and rich food. In their freedom, the Israelites lose sight of the harsh realities of their enslavement.
Many who fight against mental illness or addiction connect with this concept of forgetting past consequences and feeling enslaved to desire. At the same time, all of us can understand experiences of desire and the hold they can have on us. Think about the desires you have when you had a bad day at work. Maybe you want to avoid talking to your coworkers, pick a fight with your spouse when you get home, or escape through eating, shopping, or endless hours of TV.
The First Step of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 Steps involves admitting powerlessness over our drug of choice, naming the fact that dependence on that substance led our lives to become unmanageable. Whether that drug of choice looks like alcohol, sex, or escapism, it’s clear to see we are all powerless in some areas of our lives. In fact, often when we believe we are powerful is when we are most powerless.
We are most powerless when we are unable to admit to our own powerlessness.
What are some of the desires you have in your life that come up again and again? Maybe they are desires for good things, but they have overtaken your mind, emotions, and willpower and end up enslaving you. Some of these desires might be for financial freedom, marriage and relationships, or a happier outlook on life. Ask yourself how you would fill in this blank: “If only I had ________, my life would be better.”
What are your “if only”s?
But how many times have you seen people who give everything they have in search of this goal or desire, and when they finally receive the thing they want, they realize that it’s not enough? Maybe you’ve noticed this in yourself: you thought marriage would make you happy, but now that you’re married, you feel more lonely than when you were single. You thought having money would make life easier, but it feels like you’re constantly holding out for the next raise or promotion so you can achieve your next financial goal. You can feel disappointment at constantly striving for the next thing and feeling as though you don’t have enough.
If you’ve ever had the thought, “If only I had _____________, my life would be better,” you’re able to catch a glimpse of the day-to-day world of addiction.
For an addict, the addictive substance or behavior is constantly demanding more and telling the person that they will be happy if they continue to chase the next high or thrill.. That constant refrain is what makes it so difficult for the addicts to stop their behavior: they are enslaved by the addictive behavior and are unable to see the effects it has on their mind, emotions, and will.
What then? How do we cope with the craving and desire within us for more? Start by connecting with your Higher Power. Alcoholics Anonymous defines a Higher Power as “a power greater than ourselves” that restores sanity in our lives. For the Christian, this Higher Power is God. Building connection and trust with God involves acknowledging that all of our needs are met in Him, and seeking relationship with Him first and foremost because He meets our desires perfectly.
Use the knowledge you gain from connecting with your Higher Power to create a greater vision for your life. Ask yourself: Who do I want to be known as? What do I want people to say about me after I’ve gone? What are the things I’d like to accomplish in my life? What are the dreams that I have?
As you explore this vision further, spend some time with close friends or with a significant other brainstorming about what fulfilling those dreams would look like. Have your friends hold you accountable for the priorities you’ve changed. Talk about your dreams in which a way that you can begin to understand them further and make an attitude and action shift.
How might you begin to connect with God or with your vision for your life today?
At Restored Hope, we understand how overwhelmed you can feel in your desire for more than what you are currently experiencing. Maybe you’re someone who connects with the idea of addiction as a form of running away from pain through chasing the next thrill. We’d love to help you experience a life that is more full and wholehearted through meeting with you at our Novi and Ann Arbor counseling offices. Give us a call at 734.656.8191 or fill out the form here to hear more about how we can support you.