Potential

In the early days of this past octave of Easter, I made something of a breakthrough in my understanding of “what’s wrong with me?” If we are honest with ourselves, we find this conundrum of identity troubling. We may often accomplish baby-steps in the very holy struggle to understand/accept/overcome the myriad imperfections we find within ourselves. On this occasion, however, the Holy Spirit revealed something that has the potential to transform and renew my spiritual walk in a way I haven’t experienced in almost fifteen years.

My hope is that by sharing this experience, perhaps you may come to the realization of the need for a change in your life, the I way have in mine.

Among my own sacrifices this Lent, I abstained from a number of internet-related amenities (social media, podcasts, etc.). So, when “the great fast” was completed, some of my favorite podcasts had covered some interesting topics. Ironically, then, it was a podcast from which I had abstained during the Lenten season that contained a really valuable insight.

The focus of the discussion revolved around the amount of stimulation and heightened stress we experience as the result of so much media-connectedness. Many interesting points were made about the psychological and physiological responses we have to such immediate and persistent stimuli. But most crucial to me is the way I had changed my behavior in response.

There are so many interests by which we can become fascinated, not to mention a dramatically increased ability to access any of them upon a whim these days. The problem is so much less the content we pursue (unless it incites us to sin), than it is how easy and addictive it is to gratify our curiosity. It is easier now than ever before to soak up knowledge about sports, or gardening, or travel, or politics, or entertainment—along with information that may actually serve us in more important matters.

The mind is so eager to tune in to this or that shiny thing that we become rather unconscious to the many ways we pursue it. In so doing, we check out of the present moment, we become inattentive to the closest, most valuable details, and we lose what pleasure truly is. We have become so hungry for the next bite, we don’t—and can’t—savor the one in our mouths.

I had become very much like this over the course of the past decade or so, and more acutely in the last five years. While I had opened my eyes to a plethora of really interesting, exciting, and entertaining trivialities, I occupied my mind with keeping up, staying connected to most all of them. I didn’t realize that I was so tied up in the busyness of studying my interests, I had given away the time for actually doing the things I enjoy and, worse, the time for my children, my wife, and most dearly my God—as opposed to merely feeding an appetite for knowledge about those things .

Distraction became my principal hobby—distraction, but not engagement.

I mentioned it was ironic that a podcast, a media form almost custom made for distracting the mind from a mundane task (really great while mowing the lawn, washing dishes, or folding clothes), was the vehicle carrying the message I had needed to receive for over five years.

I also mentioned that it was only potentially transformative. The best advice or the most inspiring quote or experience is only a potential. The trouble is that it will always only be potential and never actual, until I put it into practice, and therein is the single hardest part of the Christian walk. Hearing the Word of God will forever have the potential to change us. Enacting change in one’s life upon receiving the Lord’s word, so simple and so life-giving, is tremendously difficult, even painfully so.

God, give us the strength and courage to persevere in pursuit of all the grace and blessing to which you invite us.

David Dunst
Director of Music and Liturgy

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