Following My Stomach
Then food was set before him to eat. But he said, “I will not eat until I have said what I have to say.” Genesis 24:33
I never set out to become addicted to opioids. I simply got there by following my appetite. I wasn’t struggling with my mood, and I didn’t use to find relief from a miserable life. I had a great life. I simply wanted opioids because they felt amazing. I’d lived my life up to that point following my appetite, so why would I not listen to my stomach? The reason is that my stomach makes terrible decisions, seeking only immediate gratification, with no thought of consequence. As you know, I found consequences.
In treatment, I learned a simple phrase – Do the next right thing. I’ve never loved the clever little cliches of recovery, but this one stuck with me. It addresses the problem that the addicted have of making repetitive bad choices, simply by following our impulsive nature. We do the first thing that pops into our heads, which is almost always self-destructive. So, in recovery, we must learn to make choices, not by following our impulsive nature, but by following God’s will. Do the next right thing.
Today’s passage illustrates my point. In it, Abraham’s servant sought a wife for Isaac among Abraham’s kinsmen. Journeying from afar, God led the servant to Rebekah, who took the servant home to her brother Laban. The servant was invited in for dinner and food was set before him, but before he ate, the servant had to reveal the purpose of his journey. He must have been hungry. What does it matter if I eat first? The servant however, insisted upon doing what he was sent to do before he answered the call of his appetite. Do the next right thing.
I’ve encountered those who believe that doing what’s right, is the path to a dull, boring life. Just follow your heart instead. They do have a point – It is possible to be a legalistic killjoy, living only for the rules, while missing out on life. Blindly following my impulsive desires though has been a disaster. Are these my only two options? Live for my appetite or live for a list of rules? Thankfully, no. In recovery, I’m learning to ask myself what God wants me to do. As it turns out, he desires that I experience a life of meaning, joy, and peace. I find those things, not in blindly following my appetite, or in following a list of rules, but rather in following his will. So, daily, I try to point my life, not at my stomach, but at God’s will for me. And that has led to a radically different, wonderful life. Do the next right thing.