Thursday, March 6, 2008

Deanna: Little White Addictions

From Deanna Matzen, Earth Ministry's Operations Manager

Well, I'm happy to say that I've done well this week. I'm in the office 4 days instead of my usual 3 and have managed to take the bus all but once. The other day, I had to drive because I had the large and unwieldy Earth Ministry display in my car after taking it to a weekend conference.

But what I want to blog about is not how well I’m doing at taking the bus, but rather an experience I had walking to the bus yesterday morning.

Along the one mile walk to the bus stop, I pass by the house of some friends of ours. Yesterday morning, I happened to run into one of our friends outside while he was on his way to work. After greeting each other, he asked, "Out for a walk this morning?"

"No," I replied, "I'm on my way to the bus."

There was a brief pause and he gave me a curious look that says, 'you ride the bus', so I continued with, "I gave up driving my car to work for Lent."

"Oh-kay," he said, with a little pause and an upward inflection at the end that seemed to say, 'I don't get it - you are talking about Lent, right?'.

So I ventured more of an explanation, "I gave up my addiction to driving my car."

"I wouldn't exactly call that an addiction, in the classical sense," he replied dryly.

At this point, I tried to explain myself with one of my reasons for not driving my car and clearly failed to convince him. I don't even remember how the rest of the short conversation went. I was in a hurry to make the bus and he was in a hurry to get to work. While I didn't feel like I had gotten him to truly understand where I was coming from, as I walked on to the bus, I reflected on this conversation and decided that maybe I at least planted a seed.

Maybe he'll take some of his 30+ minute commute to think about why I think driving my car to work is an addiction. Maybe he'll really think hard about the fact that we all have these little white addictions that are so subtle, unlike alcohol or food, that it's easy to disregard them as barriers to a more abundant life with God. Society wants you to believe that consumerism, comfort, and convenience are not false gods. But I think if we're truly honest with ourselves we will see that choosing the easy path to comfort and convenience, whether by choosing driving a single occupancy vehicle or buying disposable stuff, etc, is a shortcut to feeling good and thereby not much different than choosing to drown our sorrows with conventional addictions. Boudelaire once said that "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist". So true, so true.

I believe that we're all looking for quick highs, which shortcut the hard work of suffering. "But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5. When we choose the easy way out, we not only cut ourselves off from growing into better people, but we participate in the earth-dishonoring consumption. I say, let's choose the harder, lesser walked path and suffer a little! In so doing, we may find simplicity, space, and joy as we distract ourselves less from communing with God and others, and find that suffering leads to hope!
Carbon Saved: 80.3 lbs

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