When I’m tired, irritated, sick, or merely experiencing a lull in the day, I can choose to console myself in one of two ways: through a worldly comfort or by lifting up my eyes to God with prayer, religious reading, or divine contemplation. Lamentably, I usually look to the world to give my flesh instant relief. Here is a list of consolations I currently use or have used to feel better in the moment, all of which competes with my love for God.
1. Eating tasty food past the point of satiety
2. Reaching for my smartphone to check for unimportant new messages or news
3. Prolonged staring at beautiful women
4. Seeking direct praise when sharing my opinions, stories, or ideas
5. Oversleeping, taking gratuitous naps, or using an alarm clock’s snooze function beyond what is reasonable
6. Consuming secular music or films to “unwind,” not worry about life, and forget about death
7. Taking unnecessarily long showers in hot water
8. Consuming a socially acceptable drug (e.g., caffeine, alcohol) to create a desirable mental or physical state
9. Craving nonstop laughter and fun during social conversation
10. Seeking novelty through travel
11. Gaining useless secular knowledge to feel more knowledgeable
12. Improving my physical appearance for the main purpose of looking better than other men
13. Complaining and grumbling (usually about other people)
14. Using modern medicine and supplements to alleviate the fear, anxiety, and physical pain of common illnesses
15. Turning on the air conditioning when it’s not that hot
16. Indulging in fantasies where I am a hero or saint
17. Responding with anger upon an insult or false accusation
At the end of each item on the list above, add “because it feels good” for the reason I do it. Sadly, my body seems not to care about the next life, and only wants to be coddled and pleased in the here and now. I prefer immediate rewards that I know yield comfort or pleasure than wait for God to console me on His timeline according to His will. His consolation requires patience and is dispensed according to whether it will benefit the soul while worldly consolation only cares about the body without taking into account salvation.
Worldly consolation is fleeting, forms addictions, and leads to worship of false idols while divine consolation is sweet, joyful, and makes us become more in the likeness of God. If you are persistently consoling yourself with entertainment, food, and all other manner of pleasure, why then does God need to console you? Why does he need to fill you with His divine grace?
I do not judge you if you participate in behaviors that I’ve determined are unhealthy for me. You can do your own self-examination to see what is competing with your love for God. I’ve noticed that some men, for example, can speak to a beautiful woman without the risk of falling into lust like myself, but nonetheless our Lord does call us to a life of self-denial, so if you’re filling your day with things that feel good, and none of those activities give you an opportunity to glorify God, you may want to ask yourself if you seek the temporal bosom of the world or the eternal bosom of God.
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