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The Christian Designer Drug

Once again, I’ve found myself so easily wrapped up in doing, that I’ve strayed away from being.

Pray for this person. Counsel this person. Preach on Sunday here and there. Encourage church leaders. Help some friends. Squeeze in some Bible reading. Turn my journal into a check list. Study Ezra backwards and forwards for my book. Go to church. Sing some stuff. Try to focus on the words. Try and make them resonate in my heart. Try not to wonder about what that weird thing is on the floor of the stage. Why is it there? Can we remove it between services? Oh, there’s a typo in that song. Pray with someone else after a service.

Go home. Take a nap. A long, long nap.

Hear me out. There is nothing wrong with naps. But when my “spiritual life” becomes exhausting, I think I’m missing out on something.

It starts out small. I feel myself straying, just a little. Knowing I should be spending some time alone, in solititude, in a closet, with the One who restores. Instead, I feel the pressure of a book deadline looming. Of the boxes yet to be unpacked. So I pull a little bit away.

Slowly, I realize I’m far off the pavement. I panic. I need a fix. I look around desperately. Where’s my Jesus? I lost him. Where is he? Oh, well, I can find him in doing this good thing. In going to church. Pray pray pray. Thumb through my devotional. Has it really been since May since I opened this? Read read read.

Phew. That was close.

I find myself turning religious activity into a Christian designer drug. I feel guilty, a little empty, and desperate, so I opt for the quick fix. The problem? It’s like any other addiction (and trust me, I speak from experience). It only lasts a little while. You develop a tolerance. You need more—more often. It may temporarily kill the craving, but it’s not filling you with the abundant experience you’re intended to have in your faith.

When I wrestled with various addictions, I was erratic. I didn’t think clearly. When I was withdrawing from a pain killer addiction several years ago, I threw scissors at my husband. I wasn’t in my right mind. Addicts are never in their right mind. You simply do what you have to do in order to feel normal again. To feel like everyone else around you.

Again.

In our fast-paced, quick-fix, get-it-now-and-feel-better culture, I fear that many of us have fallen into a pattern of addiction to Christian designer drugs: a 90-minute experience on the weekend, obligatory service, routine and mundane “disciplines,” saying yes to everything around us to fill that hole that only one thing can fill…resting in a Redeemer.

That’s not an instant feel-good drug. It doesn’t alter your mood. But it provides long-term, growing, sustaining, life-giving (to others…) health and energy.

I need to begin recovery—again—from the things that are, by all outward appearances, good…and fall into something that I’ll never be able to tangibly grasp, but that will transform my soul into something lovely and great and generous.

And hopefully I’m not alone. And hopefully, we can do this…together.  

This article was adapted from a blog post by Anne Jackson at FlowerDust.net

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ajackson@churchleaders.com'
Anne Marie Miller (formerly Jackson) is a writer, speaker, and social change activist who lives in Orange County, California. She also holds the position of Storyteller at Visioneering Studios Architecture.