Have you discerned what you are too attached to? Are you ready to begin working on those inordinate attachments? Let’s take the first step together, by looking at the reasons we are attached to things other than God.
Why am I doing this?
This week I sent family members a copy of the family tree I created for my dad. Genealogy is a favorite hobby of mine. One relative emailed back that he was too bored with it even to finish the first page. “Can you explain to me why this interests you?” he asked. “I just don’t get it.”
We emailed back and forth a bit as I told him how I loved family and history. I still don’t think my answers satisfied him.
I would not have written about this, except that the genealogy bug hit me again. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at my mom’s family, I thought. I’ll just do a quick search to see if there’s anything new. Before long, I had spent all the time I should have been writing my book (and more) researching my ancestors. I began asking myself the same question. Why am I doing this? What am I really getting out of it?
We were made for eternal beatitude
God has loved us from all eternity. He made us for love and joy. “He has placed eternity in the hearts of men,” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We fear annihilation. We desire eternal beatitude.
When I find a family connection I have been looking for for a long time, I feel like a detective who has solved a case. I feel exhilarated and fulfilled. A moment later, that feeling is gone. I seek a new challenge. What if I can go back one generation more? And then another, and another… Genealogy is a hobby that has no ending point. It’s not like a game that is over when time runs out. I don’t want to stop.
So, I’m writing my blog post late at night, instead of in the afternoon when I should have been doing it. Why?
We humans confound pleasure and joy, especially in wealthy cultures like ours. Used to having everything we want, we search for the thing that will give us a new thrill. When we find it, we want to experience it over and over. I think we’re trying to satisfy our desire for the eternal, but with temporal things. The thrill, the pleasure, always goes away. We hope to sustain it by repeating the experience.
Is this really making me happy?
When I spend too much time on the computer, I don’t get my housework done. My house is a mess. I feel guilty. I complain. I yell at my kids to clean up their messes.
Or, I keep telling J (age 2) that I’ll read to him in a few minutes. Sometimes, that few minutes never comes to an end. I get jumpy when the boys call me. They’re interrupting my project. And I yell at them again.
All this, for the pursuit of something that cannot give me lasting happiness!
Inordinate attachments are little idols
When I seek happiness in anything other than God, I make it an idol.
That doesn’t mean we can’t have any pleasures in life. It doesn’t mean our hobbies are sinful. We are Catholics, not Puritans. We believe that God’s creation retains its goodness even after the Fall. But creation is broken. We have “detached it” from God. We need to let God detach us from it.
Everything good in life should bring us closer to God. It should point toward our Creator. Whatever gets in the way of my duty harms my soul.
How can I change?
How can I stop seeking fulfillment in things other than God? I’m spending 2014 seeking the answer. I plan to share with you the highlights of my search. I hope you won’t think I’m wasting my time. Even if I can’t stop talking about it.
Share with us: What do you find yourself doing too much of? Have you ever considered the reasons why?