Monday, May 28, 2012

Obsession With Self-Survival

On this Memorial Day, the flags are flying all over town and we remember all of those who have died, and sacrificed life or limb in the name of freedom.  My heart goes out to all of those who grieve for their loved ones who died serving their country.  If only honor helped mitigate pain. 

This day also makes me think about my own mortality.  Fr. William Joensen turned on a switch in my brain one day when I read the following: "Humans become 'capable of death' by the willing embrace of the Word who helps us overcome obsession with self-survival."  I began to wonder, "Am I obsessed with surviving?"  The answer is yes.  Not just yes to staying alive physically, but to avoiding little deaths, too.  I think every bad personal choice ever made is an attempt to avoid the feeling of dying (suffering) - physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  Drugs, sex, alcohol, food, politics, things, an excess of anything - we use these things to distract us or attempt to overpower whatever it is within ourselves that is languishing.

C.S. Lewis diffuses any attempt to convince ourselves that this approach might work:

"If you have not chosen the kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead! (Law)  Women or patriotism, cocaine or art, whisky or a seat in the Cabinet, money or science.  Does it matter to a man dying in a desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?"

Today is a good day to take inventory of the little deaths you might be trying to avoid or focus on what you want to do, no matter how much sacrifice is involved.  What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?  How do you live with the "End in Mind"?  Miranda Walichowski has an excellent planner and website that encourages this kind of mindset as you live your life.  You can learn more about her and her planner at

Dear God, Thank you for the freedom we have in the United States of America.  Thank you for all of the soldiers and their families who have sacrificed to make it so.  Thank you for your Word.  Please give us the grace to embrace it.  Please help us see clearly the route to the only well, and help us to stay on it.  Protect us from all of the things that lure us away and give us the grace to see them for what they are.  Help us to overcome our obsession with surviving by dying to ourselves at every turn.  It is in these little deaths that we will one day be united to You.  I love you.  Amen.


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