1) This reminds me of my relationship with sugar.
2) It also reminds me of my relationship with God. That’s weird.
3) I could really go for a donut right now.
I'm assuming you've heard the song - don't YouTube it. The video is awful and the remixes aren't much better. You have to find a very toned down cover to get away from the raunchy lyrics. Even so, Stay High could be the spiritual anthem for many people I know. I know it seems like it's about one night stands and drugs. Jesus knows it's deeper.
We're all trying to stay high, regardless of our addiction. We're all trying to feel good, to get by, to distract ourselves from disappointment. This isn't always unhealthy - to get our mind off of what we can't change - but sometimes we turn from something bad.... only to turn to something worse.
Is it weird to feel like you’re “addicted" to God?” It’s not weird to think that, but it’s not healthy (or God’s will) for us to be addicted to anything. His will for us has always been our freedom. That’s what makes God – fundamentally – a God of love, as opposed to a controlling tyrant.
And yet, how many of us have confessed to having a Jesus High before? Have your parents ever joked with you that you’re “addicted” to retreats? When the haze of that night in adoration fades and your complete trust in God begins to waver, haven’t you had a time when believing that God was going to come through just wasn’t enough for you?
Take a minute to think. What are you addicted to? What do you “need” to get through each day?
We use a lot of things throughout our day to numb the pain that we’re not in heaven. This is real life and we don’t “feel” close to God all of the time. What if there was another way of living from retreat to retreat? From success to success? What is there was freedom from being addicted to other people’s praise?
We live in a culture that wants us to sell-out for them, their product. When does anyone ever sell out for us? That’s exactly what Jesus did, and what St. Paul tells us to do in Corinthians 3:8. “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”
What if what you already have was enough? What if God gave you everything you needed each day, and you saw it? What if you have all you need to be happy and holy already, right in front of you? What if the lies of a culture who wants our money… is keeping us from giving God our heart?
What if in trying to gain the world, we are losing our soul? St. Paul says he has suffered the loss of all things for the GAIN of knowing Jesus. What if in all of our effort to WIN, we become losers? What if in our effort to become the Best, we are becoming the Worst? Imagine what you need to get through each day - 2 cups of coffee, an hour long lunch, your boss to be in a good mood, your boyfriend to text you six times, etc. Erase all of that. And dare to dream that you could live as if all you need to be happy is exactly what you receive each second of life granted to you. That your heartbeat is all that you need. That oxygen is your only requirement to feel fully alive. That the grace of your thinking, feeling, loving soul was enough.
Our addictions are rubbish, and we’re just running around trying to “stay high” on sugar, reputation, caffeine and the high of “having fun.” Honestly, God gives us the opportunity to have the most fun you could ever have when He calls us to the Great Commission. There is no greater joy than bringing people Jesus. If you’re spending your weekends doing anything but living and sharing the Gospel, you’re really missing out.
Addiction vs Freedom
The “good feeling” that God might give you after retreats might be the least of our problems. Throughout the day, we use the word “addicted” like we used to throw out the word “love.” Oh my gosh, I love BuzzFeed. What’d you do over the weekend? Oh, I binged a couple seasons of How I met your Mother on Netflix. Oh my gosh I’m addicted to Trivia Crack. (There’s a reason CRACK is in the title, am I right? Also – does anyone else find it rude that they not-so-casually remind us, “Ooh this is your worst subject” right before we’re about to compete?! Not exactly a morale booster!)
Addiction is defined by Psychology Today as “a condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive.”
God’s love is freedom. When we become addicted to something, we initially pursue it because it feels good. A person is good. Food is good. Spending time with your friends is good. When we begin to use these things to feel good, though, that’s when we have an issue.
I don’t mean to belittle addiction because it can be a serious, life-threatening and all-consuming disorder. Truth is, we’re all addicted to something. What starts out as fun becomes obligatory for our daily function, and that’s not fun at all. Addiction leads us to lose control of our emotions. Sin quickly leads to addiction, and we lose the freedom to choose what is right. Sometimes even when we want to turn around we rely too much on the opinions of others to do so.
When I think of addiction, I think of infatuation. Infatuation is like an addiction with a person – typically, a person you don’t even know. Sometimes it’s related to the release of oxytocin in your system when you’ve been physically intimate with another person. This is the science – oxytocin, caffeine, nicotine – these are the chemicals. But let’s just call it what it is.
It’s poison. Just like the doubt Wormtongue tried to speak into Eowyn. And once you’ve had a taste, you need more to “stay high.” It reminds me of that time when I was little that I drank an entire bottle of Dimetapp (What? That stuff tastes amazing!). Turns out, it does not taste so amazing on its way back up. Weeks go by of relying on someone, or something, to keep you feeling good, beaming brightly, receiving praise from other people or feeling like you belong, and suddenly it starts to fade. There’s a bitter after taste. Your boyfriend doesn’t respond to text messages as quickly anymore. Where is he? What is he doing? Is he with someone else? What if I don’t have him tomorrow? What if I don’t have the good feelings He gives me anymore?
It happens in our prayer life, because we don’t know any other way. Why don’t I feel close to God? Where’s the live music? I can’t pray without Matt Maher! Is God with someone else, and can’t be with me? Am I not important? I thought he was never going to leave me? Do I not deserve God’s love? What did I do wrong?
You are Enough
Addiction will always lead you to the same conclusion: I am not enough. I need this to be good. I need this to be loved. I need this to feel all right. The truth is, God is all you need, and there’s nothing you can do to lose Him.
“Stay High” isn’t about the fear of losing something. This is a story of someone who has loved, and lost, and now they continue to try to fill a void in their life with grisly entertainment. They’re bored and they want to be numb so they don’t feel the pain.
I don’t care how many retreats you’ve been on or how close to God you’ve “felt.” God has been with you – closer to you than anyone you’ve ever known – knowing you better than you know yourself. He is with you right now even if you’re in a state of mortal sin, and He’ll be with you tomorrow. You didn’t do something so wrong that He won’t love you. You may need to make a move towards him by Reconciling with Him, but your actions haven’t done anything to His love or His presence. He’s right there. The temptation to believe you’re not enough or that you did something to irrevocably push him away – that temptation does not come from God.
Psychology Today’s definition of addiction finishes by describing addiction which “interferes with ordinary life responsibilities.”
The first time you go through a break up with someone, it hurts. The temptation is to feel a level of terror: is this real? What happened? I don’t want to wake up from the dream. How did I lose him? A week ago things were fine.
But were they really? From the beginning of your relationship with something you’re addicted to, were things ever really fine? What made you turn to them and pour so much of yourself into them in the first place?
When we turn to something to fill our lives, we just aren’t seeing how full our lives already are.
Beyond the high of a retreat and WAY beyond the temporary pleasures we get from a crush or even donuts, there is this incredible thing called grace. As Baptized children, every time we receive the Eucharist and every time we wake up in the morning, grace is waiting for us. On the journey of life, it’s the dotted line that carries us from each milestone, each sacrament, each day, even each meal, to the next. The rest is just extra icing on the cake.
Grace is all you need. It’s truly that amazing.
So the next time you begin to feel restless and anxious about getting something you want or – more importantly – losing something you “need,” take a step back. Think about your heart and what you desperately want to ask God for. So many of us treat God like the Wizard and if we just had that one thing (usually a super cute significant other, but sometimes more significant like a family member who isn’t sick anymore) we would have enough.
I’m here to tell you that you already have enough. All of your life you have had enough. You will always have enough. Our Heavenly Father sustains you this moment as he did yesterday, today and forever. What’s more, He’s enough for the people that you love, too. He’s enough for the poor, for the rich, for the seeking, for the found. He knows that He is enough for us. Problem is – do we believe it?
Whenever we begin to think that His love, the grace he gives us, isn’t good enough, fast enough or full enough, just remember that faithfulness isn’t about “staying high.” You will only have enough when you realize that God is all you need. Happiness isn’t having more, it’s knowing how much you have to the point of almost wanting less. As Matthew Kelly once said, “You will never have enough of what you don’t really need.”
But in those moments of weakness, in those mornings before the big exam or the day after a huge fight with your best friend, I leave you with this prayer in hopes that it will saturate your heart. When you feel like you’re in the dessert – I mean, the desert – my prayer is that God’s grace will drop on your heart, soft at first and then steady, until the flood of His love pours forth and you can feel it. Feel that not only is God enough for us, but you’re also more than enough for Him.
Today I want to strive. Today I want to reach out for what I think I need to survive.
When I woke up this morning, Lord, you had already poured your blessings into my life. You’re giving me so much grace it can overwhelm and overflow my heart.
Be with me in this moment, Jesus, so I can see with your eyes and feel with your heart, the reminder of your always-present Love.
This grace is enough. This grace is meant to be sufficient for me. This grace is all I need.
Today, I don’t want to strive. Today I don’t want to reach out and demand what I think I need to thrive above others.
I embrace today asking for the grace to know my cup is full. I already have everything I need to be happy. Today is just another day to enjoy all you’ve given me, and show you how much I appreciate it, and love you.
Mary, please be my mother, and pray for me that I might know your Son’s love. Help me to believe that I am enough for God, exactly how I am. Help me to believe that God is enough for me, exactly how He is.