What Is Spiritual Addiction?

You can get addicted to anything, my dear.

Even God.

Because often, my sweet, it is your idea of God, and not actual God, that you are addicted to. You are addicted to a concept, to fabrication, to your own inner journey, and not reality.

And that’s okay! Be patient with yourself. Because God is both in the seeking and the letting go. One knows better the practice of letting go when she knows the practice of the chase.

Oh my goodness, let me explain.

I know people who are beautiful and wise, and they devote so much of their time to the spiritual life, and they are not happy. They are unsatisfied.

And that is how you know they are addicted to God, and not of God, see. They are not serving God, because they are in a period of spiritual darkness, even though their efforts, and their appearances, tell them and everyone else they are seeking or in the light. They are drunk on God, to put it matter-of-factly, and drunkenness is okay, for a time. We all need to get drunk once in a while. We all need to experience the feeling of walking in soup. But at some point, when you refuse to step out of that drunkenness and accept the reality of your life, your purpose to serve in the way you are made, what you realize is that the thing you’ve been calling God is really an alternate, a substitute, a poison. And that poison comes in many flavors, so it is deceptive. It is also widely available and free.

So let me explain:

Once, an amazing woman nearly offered me a job working for “God.” I sat in her office and was blown away by her beauty, by her light, by all I could learn and experience. I was so blown away, in fact, at the possibility, the glory of it, that I knew I would become immersed and distracted, and never cater to my own light and my own callings, the reality of my existence. If I worked for her, I would be handing my life away. Sure, I’d be spending days dripping with “divine presence,” but it would be avoidance and escape, and it would be a turning away, even if on the surface it appeared to be a turning toward.

Do you understand the distinction?

I felt a wave of emotion about that job, and too much emotion is a surefire way to know something is a short-term solution on a longer path, a stage that is going to take you on a merry-go-round you’ll eventually have to get off. And when you’re wiser, you take steps that are going to aid you in the long haul.

When something is right for you, and you are in a state and place of alignment, what happens is simply a clicking into place like a puzzle piece, a brief “A-ha!” and a moving on. The reaction is not Oh my God, but rather, “oh.” And that “oh” usually comes after many waves of emotion, of not getting things that you longed for, or getting things that made you ill. The “oh,” is when you say, “Duh. Right. So obvious.” And move on with your day.

That’s truth, honey. That’s what’s real. That’s when you know you’re doing something right.

So here’s something else:

I used to teach literature.

One of my favorite books to teach was Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, about men who are drafted into the Vietnam War, and one writer who is trying to make sense of the destruction years later. He finds comfort in the stories, in explaining the power of storytelling to get people through trauma and hard times.

And that book changed my life and my perception on a lot of things, for a lot of reasons. But one thing that stood out to me, always, was his description of the appropriate reaction to a war story. He said you don’t feel uplifted. You don’t feel like you’ve been granted access to some greater meaning, or that there is a moral. “In the end,” he says, “there’s nothing much to say about a true war story, except maybe, ‘Oh.’”

And this is the same with the experience of God.

Except let me add, the experience of God is also, "Hmm."

On the road to God, there are a lot of ups and downs. There are longings and urges, and plights, and fears, and dreams, and moments of elation, even. But when you are in a state of actually experiencing God?

You don’t even know. You’re not calling it anything, putting a label on it, describing, manifesting, or any of the bullshit we’re always trying to do.

You’re just in a state of flow. You’re just in a state of being. You’re not sinking in drunkenness or retching on the floor from loss.

In the moments when you know God, deeply, on a fundamental level, it’s silent, and matter-of-fact, and “Oh.”

It's "hmm."

Moving on.

Photo by Rachael Henning on Unsplash

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