My Appetite Problem
When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. John 16:21
Here, in Jesus’ metaphor of childbirth, lies the principle behind one of my greatest life problems – my appetite. My problem isn’t that I desire joy and pleasure. That’s simply the nature of joy and pleasure – we all have an inherent drive to feel good. My problem lies in how I go about trying to feed my brain’s pleasure center. I know where to find lasting, authentic joy, but instead, I so often settle for instant gratification. The difference between the two is the difference between authentic life and profound self-destruction.
Using the suffering of childbirth and the life that comes after, Jesus summed up the process of pursuing and finding authentic joy. He said that with true joy, the payment, sacrifice, and discomfort come first. The trial is temporary though and is eventually eclipsed by a lasting joy that makes us forget about the pain. The problem of course, is that we must choose the discomfort, often before we see any reward.
Instant gratification is the exact opposite experience. With instant gratification, we experience pleasure and happiness now, but it doesn’t last. Soon, it’s eclipsed by the pain and cost that inevitably follows. Instant gratification unfortunately, because it doesn’t require any payment up front, is profoundly addictive.
This has been a catastrophic problem in my life. I want to be in shape tomorrow, but today, I just want a donut. I desire to live in recovery eventually, but today, I want the high of the pill. I want to follow Christ’s commands, someday finding a life of joy, peace, and meaning, but right now, I just want to follow my way.
I may not struggle with using drugs today, but the principle persists, and will for the rest of my life. Every day, I’m tempted to cheat, taking a short cut to feeling good. Daily then, it’s up to me to choose the discipline required to pursue lasting satisfaction instead of instant gratification. Daily, I must turn from my way, which leads to misery, to follow Christ’s way, which is the only way to find authentic joy, peace, and life.