Author: Chad Hyatt
Reflection: v. 36, ‘Don’t let him show up when you weren’t expecting and find you sleeping’
In our community, which has it’s share of struggles with addictions of various kinds, we have come to believe that we live in a deeply addicted society. It’s not so much that we fail to see the disorder all around us, it’s that we have allowed ourselves to become numb to it. Numbing ourselves to pain is at the heart of every kind of addictive behavior. Don’t make the mistake of thinking addiction can be limited to ways we abuse substances. Addiction shows up in all the unhealthy patterns we take on to try and cope with our pain—and every addiction, however seemingly personal or private, affects our relationships with those around us. When we numb ourselves to our own pain, we also numb ourselves to the pain of others. These hurtful patterns must be named in order to be undone and new, healthier patterns established. The Bible calls this numbness ‘hardness of heart.’ It characterized Pharaoh as he refused to hear God’s voice calling for human liberation and instead charged head long to his own destruction—and the tragic destruction of those who followed him. Naming the patterns that harden our heart and choosing new patterns is what the Bible calls repentance. If Advent is indeed a time of repentance, then we must reckon with the fact that it is our numbness, our hardness of heart, that keeps us complacent and comfortable with the world the way it is.
So Jesus calls us to rouse ourselves from this selfish slumber, to shake ourselves awake and to be clear-eyed and alert. How? Prayer is an obvious answer. Scripture, too. Community is essential, of course. But the practice that pulls all the others together into a whole are the works of mercy—direct engagement in the pain of our sisters and brothers by sharing our table, our time, and our very selves with one another. Compassion, where we feel with others their suffering and pain, is the opposite of numbing ourselves. In the face-to-face love of our neighbor as ourselves we will all find sobriety.
Prayer God of compassion, rouse us and awaken our numbed and hardened hearts with a lively love of our neighbors who suffer.