Random Blog Clay Feet: October 06, 2008
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Monday, October 06, 2008

Something Better

I noticed something interesting today about temptations. As I pondered the reasoning processes going on inside of my mind in response to various temptations that came to me today, I realized something I had not noticed before. Maybe because the new factor that is just starting to show up on the picture has not really been there in enough force to even be a noticeable factor before. Let me explain.

One thing I noticed is that all of my life the main reasons for resisting most temptations are somehow rooted in fear when I analyze them honestly. And some of those fear-based reasons are actually pretty crass when they get exposed to the light. But nevertheless they are part of my fundamental reasons why I have resisted most of the temptations that I have met for all of my life.

One of the most common fear-based reasons for resisting temptations is the fear of what others might think of me if I was discovered. Again, I am not claiming that this is a healthy reason or motivation, it is just what I have observed. It is also not the only reason for resisting but it is certainly one of the most common reasons. In close connection with that is the thought of what might happen to me if I were to indulge in this temptation. My mind can quickly factor out the potential scenarios of what might likely happen if I were to indulge in this activity and the consequences can easily be seen to be quite ruining for my life, my happiness, my social standing and many other things that make life enjoyable. But still, the underlying reason that is revealed when all of this is boiled down is fear.

Today as I thought about a certain temptation (and right now I can't even remember what it was in particular) I caught myself weighing the amount of attraction that it had on my mind and deciding that it had nearly none. As a result my sense of danger associated with this temptation was extremely low and my subtle conclusion was that at least right now I would not have to keep very much guard up against this temptation.

But that last thought triggered an alarm in my brain and I began to take notice of what was going on inside. What was this line of reasoning anyway that was going on just below my radar of attention? Something seemed quite askew about this kind of thinking and now it was starting to look a little suspicious the closer it got to my conscious attention.

In addition, as I thought about it more I realized that there is actually another option that might be available as a motivation for resisting temptation that is not rooted in fear. I had to admit that I certainly don't have much familiarity or history of experience with this other option but I was now becoming aware of it at least. That other option might best be described as “something better”.

When this thought came to my mind I remembered a quote from a wise person I learned many years ago. It said something to the effect that the watchword of all true education is “something better”. I continued to ponder this as I drove toward home and wondered how this might fit into what I had been observing in my own heart earlier. What does education have to do with the motivation that I use for resisting temptations?

Well, I must say that I still don't have it all completely clear in my mind even as I write this. In fact, the very reason I sat down to write about this was so that maybe in the process of writing I might flush out more of the answer and condense it under the light of examination and the presence of the Spirit. I am actually asking the questions while I am writing and at the same time listening for the answers.

What I did sense when I was observing that most of my motivations up to this point have been based on fear-type reasoning is that the alternative to depending on fear is a growing attraction to a better life that I could enjoy in closer connection with God if I choose not to indulge in temptations. What alarmed me and alerted my attention to the fear-factor analysis was that my mind was actually caught subtly weighing my options based on how much fear there was attached to a temptation. In other words, some dark part of my mind was calculating how much danger there was associated with the potential of giving in to this temptation and if the danger was low enough it might actually try to sabotage the other part of my mind and cause me to go ahead and indulge myself if the opportunity were to present itself conveniently enough.

This looks very suspiciously like the kind of logic that my sinful flesh would use to sabotage my spirit and get me into trouble while trying to hide from the radar of my spirit. (think Romans 7) I also suspect that God is prompting me to get a closer look at some of the things that go on inside that I have not really noticed before so that I can depend more fully on Him for more healing and mature more in this area of my life.

But this idea of transitioning from fear-based motivations for resisting temptations to attraction-based motivations toward something superior and more satisfying than what the temptation can offer is a very intriguing and compelling idea. In fact I suspect that it is a very God-inspired thought that was likely planted here by something or someone outside of my own brain's imagination.

I realize that I have been thinking lately about the difference between a fear-based, fear-motivated religion and a love-based, divinely energized spiritual life. This line of thinking has likely set me up to have this kind of epiphany about how I have related to temptation in the past and how I potentially could relate to it quite differently in the future. I really think this is an important transition that is the direction that I want to see my life moving through.

I want to know more about this new option of responding to temptations from a basis of choosing something better in place of avoiding them motivated by any number of fear-based reasons. I feel that this kind of life would be much easier to grow in and would produce much more solid results in building useful character and integrity in my life. I have been learning for years how unstable and fickle fear-bonds are as a means of motivation and the danger it presents when integrity comes under extreme pressure. But I have not spent nearly the amount of time needed to explore with my heart what the other better option might be where I would live from a positive growth-based orientation rather and a negative, avoidance-based attitude.

For right now I think I will leave it at that. I am sure this is going to continue to circulate in my thinking and I am also sure that God has much more to say about this. I look forward to that and to the positive effects this new dimension might bring into my experience.