Do you have movies that you could watch over and over again without tiring of them? I know I do. One of those is What About Bob with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. One day, I actually would like to have a blue t-shirt with yellow letters that say “Don’t Hassle Me…I’m Local.” But, I digress. This is one of my favorite scenes where Bob makes known his desperate longing for Dr. Leo Marvin’s time and attention:
Though I never thought or said Bob’s exact words, my thoughts, words, behaviors, decisions, and priorities for the first 20+ years of my life revealed a couple key themes: 1) I was the center of the universe, 2) I deserved to be happy and have what I want…and in case it was not emphasized enough in points 1 and 2, to quote Kuzco from The Emperor’s New Groove 2, 3) “Yay! A 50-foot me!” because most everything had to be all about me. And since the end justified the means, no amount of plotting and manipulation – regardless of it being conscious or unconscious – was too much…as long as my life, the world, and the people in them met my “needs.” Oh what a tangled web we weave when we masquerade our wants as needs! Of course, life and the world had ways of not giving in to my tantrums and demands despite my best manipulation attempts (and I did pride myself on being able to weasel my way out of any mess…I did watch every single I Love Lucy episode after all).
Reality involves a lot of harsh stuff. My parents had faced some pretty difficult circumstances throughout their lives and, misguidedly, raised me with all “love” and no discipline. They sheltered or rescued me from real-life consequences well into early adulthood. Not only did I end up very selfish and spoiled, but I also had to learn a lot of life lessons the hard way and on my own. Stress? Negativity? Fear? Doubt? Arguments? Anger? Enter in the well-loved coping mechanisms to escape back to my fluffy marshmallow cloud of delusional happiness…all while I was beginning to look and grow like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man no less! As long as I can remember, my addiction or escape route of choice has always been food. Still, my addictive nature never stopped there…shopping, TV, codependent relationships, alcohol, smoking, Internet, and coffee (lots and lots of coffee), among others. As I’ve walked with God over the years, I’ve left many of these behind and never looked back. But with others, I still find myself longing for their time and attention…and somehow talk myself into thinking that they will somehow make me happy and lessen the pain of life’s trials and tribulations. While my addictions did serve to make me happy and ease troubles, they did so for only a short time. After sometimes a day, sometimes an hour, sometimes an instant, the dark clouds started moving in again and I needed more.
Psychologists might call me an addictive personality…though I think, to some extent, virtually all people have an addictive aspect to their imperfect human nature. Some people’s might just be more intense than others’…and what we are addicted to – everything from several beers at a bar or a night with a stranger to seemingly good things like a clean house or praise from others for another charitable work well done – is as diverse and unique as each one of us. I’ve spent most of my life trying to figure out the “why’s” of me. Why this certain addiction or set of addictions over others? Why do I have these bad habits? Why did I do this, think this, say this, feel this? Why did I make the same mistake when I knew so much better? I think the better question is: Do we really need to always know and/or understand why? Or should we just do our best to know and understand what we can while trusting the One who knows and understands everything (including us better than we can ever understand ourselves) for the rest?
There is an essential longing, a soul need, inside everyone. Only like trying to pound a round peg into a square hole, we keep trying to fill that need with various things that we find in the world around us. Still, since they don’t fit, the hole remains empty, the need unfulfilled. Instead of looking around me, I found I needed to look over everything in the world, through everything in the world, and in everything in the world. When I did that, I found that I saw only one thing: God. I realized that the need inside me was the need to know and be filled with the God who created me and sustains me with each breath in a world that He keeps turning by His Word in a universe He spoke into existence. So, what can we do about this continual war within ourselves – the one between our need for God and selflessness, and our want for pleasure and selfishness? How can they merge so that we can know true lasting peace and be free to enjoy life without guilt or painful consequences?
Look for “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme…I Need, I Need, Part 2: A Recipe for Deceptive Destruction” to be posted soon! Enter your email address on the left to follow this blog and be notified of new postings.