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?
21 thoughts on “Why do you have inordinate attachments?”
I really like this article. I know i need to examine my attachments that get in the way or make me resentful or impatient in my vocation as a Mom. I’ll be watching for the highlights you share and hope to learn in my own search as well!
Thanks, Monica. We are all in this together. Won’t it be great in Heaven when we can celebrate forever the way we supported one another?
This touched my soul since I deal with the same issue Connie. Even good things on the computer can draw us from God’s presence, our duties, quiet time. I have been there and I think that is why the Lord chose “silence” for me this New Year. I jumped off Twitter because I couldn’t stay off there when I had it. I only go on Pinterest for very brief moments now. I write when inspired and IF I have the time and I feel I have more time now that I am not just on here just flitting about. I am trying to practice leaving the computer in the afternoon when I have some time to go to my room for quiet time for prayer.
I look forward to your ponderings as you journey through this year. It is good for ALL of us to reflect on this.
Oh…see…I couldn’t just end with that. The *why* you asked? It gives me immediate satisfaction. Because when I step away and I am in silence, the emptiness sometimes becomes too much…then I look for something else to fill it instead of waiting on the Lord. Yep.
That’s so true, Theresa–and so Carmelite! We’re looking for satisfaction in things that aren’t God. We’re not gonna find it there.
I went overboard with all the social media when I first started using them. Twitter I find especially addicting. Thankfully, the Lord has helped me become much more disciplined with them over time. I also do much less browsing. Most of my time on the computer lately has been related directly to my writing. Until this week!
I enjoyed your post on attachments. One thing I have learned through the years comes from the work of Rene Girard who looks closely at what he called ‘mimetic desire.’ It is the seemingly inherent nature of humans to imitate what other people desire, i.e. keeping up with the Joneses, Mimetic desire tends toward the seven deadly sins and eventually violence when the focus of that desire is on what others have. Jesus taught us to fix our eyes upward; it is only when we direct our desire to the transcendent that we can free ourselves. Our desire to imitate is innate and cannot be gotten rid of; it is only by desiring what Jesus taught us to imitate that we rest in the love and forgiveness of God. A good book to get an overview of Girard’s thought is by Gil Bailie, “Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads.” I highly recommend it.
Thanks, Tim. The term Mimetic Desire is new to me. I’ll look into the sources you mentioned. But the principal is one I use in my homeschool regularly. I use that desire when I model studiousness and a contemplative life for my kids. I hope they will want to be like me enough that they’ll copy my good behavior. It also works negatively. I shouldn’t be surprised my boys aren’t neat freaks when I put such a low priority on household chores.
This is exactly what I needed today. I’m bookmarking it because it will be exactly what I need tomorrow. And the day after that……
Nancy, I was planning on posting on detachment before this behavior. So God gave me a really good example to use by letting me go my way instead of His. I’m thankful my failures can help other people.
Thank you! Ironically this is something that hit me yesterday while we had some family things happen. We are going to be on the same journey as well this year. Looking forward to reading more of your posts on this subject.
Tracy, I love knowing I’m not battling this alone. Let’s keep praying for each other.
This was a great post, Connie. Thank you for giving so much food for thought. I look forward to your series on this topic.I recently cancelled my Facebook account because the Lord helped me see that it was an attachment that was not bringing me closer to Him. I know many people are on Facebook and I am not judgemental of others who use it, but after a few years I realized that it was actually causing me to be judgemental, nosy and also sad and envious of others when I would use it. I had tried limiting my time on FB, but after praying about it, I discerned that I needed to completely disable my account, at least for the time being. On another note, I also have found, through a lot of personal suffering, that I have a co-dependent nature and have had to re-evaluate my “attachment” to my own husband. I would love you to write a post sometime about learning to love our friends, spouses and children without dependence on them for our happiness and joy.
Ooh, you are giving me a challenge, Cristina. Inordinate attachments to people are hard to discern. But I’ll put some thought and prayer into it. Your other example shows how individual attachments are. What one person can use with no temptation to sin, another finds holds Him back from God. We don’t all have to cut out the same things. But we do all have to cut out some things, if we want to be holy.
Thank you Connie for another beautiful and meaningful posting.
Each of us struggle with a Golden Calf that blinds our ability to see God and deafens our ability to hear Him, for our true happiness and fulfillment resides in Him.
You’re welcome, Michael.
Thank you Connie, for this very relevant post. Almost anything, even laundry, can become a distraction from the beautiful, joyous relationship with Our Blessed Lord. May God bless you and your family and thank you so much for this post.
Ha, Lora, I wish I could give up laundry in my year of detachment!
You have won the Superstar Blogger Award
Congratulations on the award, Melanie, and thanks for passing it on to me! I am not posting about awards any more, partly because of time concerns, and partly to keep my blog design from being cluttered with award badges. But I really appreciate the encouragement!
Hi Connie! I have never blogged in my life – until now. Seeking the Eternal I have ashamedly about 4 bookcases of Catholic books – little else – & I have begun to try to discard them but end up thinking – I know why I bought that – or didn’t finish that one – or love this…and they all end up back on the shelf. It is also a case of spiritual gluttony I fear!! And yet I know I will reach Him in Adoration rather than books but- they’re so relaxing to read! Especially as I go to sleep at night…….