ERRANT PATH


All my days I have longed equally to travel the right road and to take my own errant path (Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavronsdatter).  The heart is willing but the flesh is, indeed, weak (Matthew 26:41). We all, I am sure, have felt the conflict between what we know and want as right versus what we desire or are compelled to do for pleasures sake.  We struggle with a strong desire to be moral and upright yet we, too, suffer from cravings, addictions, and the pull of pleasure.  Our body has physical urges we have difficulty controlling.  Whether it is for a substance we know is harmful or for pleasures we also know are harmful.  Alas, we are human and as such we do have to exert mind over matter.  We have to decide which is more important to us in the long run.  We must learn to control our fleshly desires in favor of what is beyond the physical realm.  I had a patient one time who asked me how he could gain the same sense of pleasure he got from cocaine.  He wanted to know what the equal replacement would be when he stopped using cocaine.  I had to be honest and say, “nothing” only to quality that by saying, “sometimes we have to decide what we want in our lives and what we do not want as part of our lives”.  The decision to place your greater good over a short sense of pleasure or physical gratification is to master your self, to be in control, and to have authority over your physical self.  We don’t have to eat a whole cake just because we want it and it’s “good”.  We can deny ourselves temporary pleasures to achieve a greater goal or purpose.  We do not have to be slaves to our physical urges.  We can develop priorities around greater goals and decisions.  To be anchored in what is physical or to be grounded in what transcends the physical is a choice.  While we have the pull of both paths, we can, in fact, only go down one of them at the time. We cannot have it both ways.  We do have to choose.

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