Friday, June 6, 2014

Freedom from ALL THE THINGS!

Thank you for your prayers concerning my last post.  I found my phone.  It was right where I knew it had to be.  As it often goes when I lose belongings, I experienced a series of emotions.  Regardless of whether I find the lost item, the ordeal invariably ends with me contemplating my high level of attachment to inanimate objects.

What confounds me is that I have always felt this way.  When I was two years old, my dad used an engine hoist to lift a sewer grate so he could retrieve my cheap plastic one-inch-tall red barrel of apples.  Why?  Because I was HYSTERICAL over losing it...and my dad likes using engine hoists.  When I was nine, someone stole my awesome hand-me-down patchwork denim jacket out of our wagon at the zoo.  I still feel sad about that sometimes.  Why?!

Part of my trouble comes from a lifelong battle with obsessive compulsive disorder.  I have healed so much since finally being treated for this condition when I was in college.  However, one symptom that still bothers me is the presence of unwanted thoughts.  I can be minding my own business, and suddenly terrible things flash in my mind.  Sometimes these thoughts are memories.  Other times, they are awful things my crazy brain makes up.  Some days they run in my head non-stop all day long.  On good days, I am able to neutralize them and move on promptly.

This mental struggle often prevents me from being able to remember happy or even ordinary events.  However, if I look at a photograph or object connected to such an event, I am able to remember it perfectly.  Thus, when I lose these items, I feel as if I am losing memories.  Additionally, I sometimes feel as if I need to frantically memorize happy times so I do not lose them too.

There are other, deeper, reasons for my attachment to worldly things.  Those have more to do with my upbringing, and I do not have any wine handy right now to be able to go into detail.

I often consider how I would feel if my house suddenly went up in flames and everything inside were destroyed.  Would I be ok?  Yes.  Then why does losing individual belongings bother me so?

I tried to remedy these feelings by saying more prayers of thanksgiving for what I do have and letting God know that I would give up all of it if He asked me to.  This plan kind of backfired, though.  I began to feel like God might be disappointed with me If I were not constantly oohing and aahhing over His gifts.  In this way, I focused more on the feeling of the experiences than on God's presence.  Not bueno.

I have been praying and working on this for many years, and I have seen some improvement.  Recently, however, I had a bit of an epiphany.  I was reading Pope St. John Paul II's theology of the body.  In this work, the pope says that acts of love are eternal - irrevocable, even.  When we love God and one another, we are not simply doing something nice.  We are participating in eternity.

How does this help me not freak out when I lose or forget things?  Any good I encounter is from God.  God is love.  Love is eternal.  I may lose worldly possessions without hope of their return.  However, I need not worry that the love attached to those items is gone as well.  It cannot go away.  Even if I have trouble remembering it sometimes, God holds each act of love in His heart forever.

This realization has given me such peace.  So often, I cling to possessions or experiences, terrified of losing them and their meanings.  Remember that part where I have trouble trusting God?  Yeah, still working on that.  I always thought of the eternal nature of love in a general sense.  Realizing that God forever holds and rejoices in each tiny act of love means I am free.  I need not cling to anything in the world.  I certainly have not perfected myself in this way, but I am so thankful for this healing grace.

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