Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Engorged and Empty

I don’t know where it began—this notion that we need more. Maybe it was cable TV, when we went from three channels to hundreds. Maybe it was all-you-can-eat buffets. Or maybe it arose with mass production. However it began, we live in an age of choice, of muchness, of endless options.

Years ago, when my children were small, one of them told me about a toy he wanted for Christmas. My husband and I went to a big-box toy store to buy the requested item. When we found the aisle where the requested toy was sold, we were greeted with so many choices that we didn’t know which one to buy.

At the grocery store where I most often shop, soft drink choices line both sides of an aisle. Sometimes my husband and I sit down to watch TV for a short time and spend so much time scrolling through the available programs that we find it’s bedtime before we can figure out what to watch. I can’t even listen to all the songs on my iPod, so I cannot imagine what I’d do with Spotify. And when I broke my hand last week I even got to choose the color of my cast.

A few weeks ago our pastor spoke in his sermon of the tension between the desire for more and the sufficiency of enough. In a society where we are inundated with choices in everything from potato chips to cast colors, why are we still so dissatisfied? Why are so many people angry, unhappy and miserable?

I have just come off two months of a very full schedule. While the items on my calendar were all good, I felt as though I was drinking from a fire hose—too many events, too much food, and too little quiet. I am part of a small group that is studying spiritual disciplines this fall. All the calendar activity wound down about the same time that we came to the chapter on fasting. As the author described how fasting makes us light, joyful and pure, I thought of how tired, heavy and unfocused I felt. I actually began to look forward to less—less food, less noise and fewer events.

With all the choices I have available to me every day, what nourishes my soul is the intentional choice to avoid the barrage of options I have for stimulation that keep me living at the surface of life. Instead, I need to open a space within for Christ. I want to be content with the sufficiency of God.

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