Search Words

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Accepting the Blame for Thoughts

Fr. Meletios (Webber) often says that we must remember one thing: "You are not your thoughts."

We have thoughts all the time that are bad, yet how is it that we are expected to not identify with them, yet at the same time confess them?

The mind is a factory of thoughts: it is constantly combining impulses (desires and anxieties) with memories into fantasies, some designed to 'plan' and others to 'distract'.  You can slow the mind down, but it is impossible to shut off entirely. Even in sleep it isn't possible.  Humans are thinking beings.  

Yet, to say "I think, therefore I am" is also a bit of a stretch, especially when it comes to the quality of those thoughts.  In our present, fallen state, the broken mind entertains broken thoughts.  Just because horrible ideas enter your head does not mean you will act on them.

This is why we can say that we are not our thoughts.

Each day we are bombarded with horrible images and ideas.  Is it no wonder that we will continue to think about these things.  We have experiences and feelings that are very powerful, and we have a mind used to coming up with permutations of these experiences, so is there a great mystery as to why our minds can end up spewing utter garbage as it puts together scenarios?

Not only that, but when you put the hunger of the passions into the mix, then you can wonder whether this absurd and horrid thought is something you are hungry for.  Then is gets worse.

In addiction, the passions are so strong that the addict can easily become convinced that his ideas are what he really wants.  He can feel hungry for 'anything,' which accounts for part of the reason why addicts can often bounce from addiction to addiction.  A heroin addict can dry out and become a religious maniac the next.  Observed and noted.

So why then should anyone accept the blame for such thoughts?  It is not so much the thought itself that we are concerned about, but asking God to heal our inner attraction to the thoughts that we have.  Bad thoughts pluck the 'heart-strings' that are 'tuned' by our passions: our broken and needy heart seeks solace in 'something,' and when it comes into contact with bad thoughts, that pluck of the heart-strings vibrates within us.  We experience, even for a moment, a desire for that thought. 

This is what we must confess: these momentary desires can lead us to the revelation of the wound deep within us.  In the place where we do not wish to go because we are frightened about what we will find.  Yet, deep within us is where God's grace must flow to heal and bring light.

By repenting over all thoughts, yet not being tempted to associate ourselves with those thoughts, we maximize our reception of God's grace and mercy while not despairing that we are hopelessly perverted.  Now it makes sense that the Desert Fathers, though living perfect lives, constantly wept: they knew deep within themselves that there were still unhealed places where temptations still lurked.  They knew that they still had small desires within themselves for sin that, if left untreated, would quickly spread and engulf them.

It is helpful to think of these inner wounds as 'infections.'  Some go away quickly, but others require a great deal of care and time to heal.  A great infection can be reduced to a tiny spot, but if the medicine is discontinued, the infection will quickly flare back up and retake its old ground, and then spread beyond.  We keep the medicine on the wound by maintaining our state of repentance.

Accepting the blame and asking for mercy is the only way to keep God's mercy flowing.  when we stop asking, then He stops working.

No comments:

Post a Comment