“here’s what i want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” – Jesus, Matthew 6:6

I was reading in my current book (The Year I Got Everything I Wanted: A Spiritual Crisis) about the author’s year of struggle in the midst of supposedly amazing things happening – new job with great title, money, gorgeous girlfriend, new city. He speaks later in the book of a particular evening when he really struggled and gave into the temptation of pornography. He makes a profound self-realization in that he says that he doesn’t normally struggle with porn except when he’s avoiding something in his life – a big decision, a hard discussion, a change. Rather than deal with the inner turmoil, he escapes with some sort of self-gratification.

JJ and i had quite the interesting discussion about the concept – avoiding inner turmoil by seeking self-gratification. I think we all do it in some form. There are the types who seek out gratification in the physical form – drinking, drugs, porn, whathaveyou. Then there are the types who seek it out through inner self-gratification. Hate, self-righteousness, pride.

“Even though we may have a deep desire for real solitude, we also experience a certain apprehension as we approach that solitary place and time. As soon as we are alone, without people to talk with, books to ready, tv to watch, or phone calls to make, an inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering into a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves in full force. We often use these outer distractions to shield ourselves from teh interior noises. It is thus not surprising that we have a difficult time being alone. The confrontation with our inner conflicts can be too painful for us to endure.” – Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New

“Solitude is one of the deepest disciplines of the spiritual life because it crucifies our need for importance and prominence. Everyone – including ourselves at first – will see our solitude as a waste of good time. We are removed from “where the action is.” That, of course, is exactly what we need. In silence and solitude God slowly but surely frees us from our egomania.” – Richard J. Foster

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought…” -Jesus, Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:3-5, The Message.

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