I said to myself yesterday, “Victoria, eating another bagel from Dunkin Donuts is not going to bring those children back.” But I did it anyway. And also four or five Christmas cookies. From a purely practical standpoint this is about as productive as rubbing my forehead against a brick wall until it bleeds, although doing that second thing would probably be less damaging to my overall health in the long run.
So goes the ongoing struggle not to abuse ourselves when “the world seems too much with us.” Here’s what acting out on addictions does: it gives us an opportunity to take the horror of the world’s brokenness onto ourselves so that we can say, “I am such a worthless piece of crap” instead of “Dear God, the world feels like such a crappy place today, I really don’t think I can handle it.”
You can get drunk. You can eat another bagel. You can ring up another huge purchase on put it on your credit card. You can hide in the bodies of strangers. Doing those things allows you to function like a sick little Jesus, taking on the sins of the world into your own body, being and bank account. “Look what a broken person I am!” you cry. “Look how much help I need, how scared I am, how alone I feel! Only booze/carbs/shopping/promiscuity/name-your-addiction-here can express the honesty of what I really am!”
Well, God knows who we really are, sweet babies. So maybe today we could just let that be enough, and decide that it doesn’t serve any real need to act out on our addictions because we’re in pain. The fact is, there is a great drama unfolding around us all the time. The drama that we feel wrapped in today is about small dead bodies being carried out of a school, and six larger bodies, and one other medium small body set apart alone, and people doubled over in grief and terror, sobbing and clinging to each other. A community shattered, and a nation in mourning.
But there is a larger drama than that — God’s drama –and we are all players in that grander plot. In that greater, grander drama, a beautiful soul called Jesus showed up in history and said, “Look, the point I’m going to make here with this short appearance is to show you that even though you are totally broken and the world IS a crappy place, it is also holy and you are each precious and beloved and equal. You’re going to even kill me — that’s how deeply twisted a species you all belong to — but EVEN THEN my Dad and I are going to come back with a super all-time HA HA IN YOUR FACE response about the power of love that should put to rest, for once and for all, your stupid ideas about what kind of power will prevail on Earth.”
The power of God’s love and grace will prevail on Earth. Today I’m going to act like I know that, because deep down I really do. I don’t doubt it one bit. And in the light of that faith, it just seems silly to weepily stuff carbohydrates in my face. The angels watch me and say, “Oh, there’s little Vicki again, doing that thing that she does when she wants an excuse to feel like crap about herself, like eating another bagel puts her into this deep solidarity with suffering humanity.” Then they sit around my kitchen table playing cards and looking over at me on occasion, rolling their eyes and smiling affectionately. “Oh look, there’s Miss Jesus of the Christmas Cookies, taking on the sin of the world with another coconut chocolate chip macaroon. Get her.”
Jesus got kind of sarcastic this morning with me while I was talking to him, and I said, “Wow, you’re almost never sarcastic. I’m not going to talk to you if you’re going to be sarcastic, because I feel really fragile right now and I don’t need a snarky Prince of Peace, especially not this time of year when I’m saying all these nice things about you.” And he said, “Oh, well definitely go eat a bunch of bagels today so you can help me do my job,” and he winked and gave me a fierce crazy gentle smile and I said, “Shut up. Now I’m going to be filled with unaccountable joy all day, dammit, Jesus” And he smiled and wiggled both of his eyebrows at me, and that was the last I’ve seen of him today but I don’t feel like eating bagels or cookies at all.
And I have been filled with unaccountable joy.