Friday, January 18, 2013

Defeating Craving with Gratitude

So, it seems to me today that a key antidote to craving is gratitude.

Makes sense, right? Craving says That is so good that I want more! Gratitude says That is so good! Thank you!

Gratitude believes, accepting the good thing as a reality: Wow. You love me. That makes me come alive. Thank you.
Craving doubts: You love me? Impossible! Tell me 500 more times and in 500 more ways and maybe then I'll finally believe it. But if I don't, you'd better keep performing for me!

Gratitude comes to rest in a humble simplicity: I needed that, and you gave it to me. Thank you! That need is met.
In craving, there is no rest: It's here now, so I'll take all I can get while I can. Who knows if I'll have it tomorrow.

It has been a life saver for me to begin each day by praying Psalm 95. I never get tired of using it as the invitatory (in the Liturgy of the Hours) and I never switch to one of the other options. I need to remind myself every day that God is God, and that we are his flock. I need to hear "Today, listen to the voice of the Lord: do not grow stubborn, as your fathers did in the wilderness, when at Meriba and Massah they challenged me and provoked me, although they had seen all of my works." Craving, I think, is a form of stubbornness. It is the insistence with which one says over and over, "Are you really sure you're God enough for me?" We're stuck, repetitively hurling this insult at a God into Whose eyes we are never bothering to gaze deeply. We do it despite the fact that God has shown us His loving faithfulness not only in the crucifixion of His Son, but in a zillion small, personal ways that one can so easily forget ten minutes after they happen.

Remembering takes gratitude. Gratitude requires faith. Faith requires humility. Humility requires, well, humiliation. It requires a response to humiliation that doesn't involve our hearts growing more stubborn and proud. It requires that we turn toward His voice when we hear it, instead of away.

Love (that God Whom we insult with our doubt) is stronger than human craving. Being satisfied requires one to calm the obsession long enough to meet His gaze and let it fill our hearts.

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