Hey that probably got your attention. Lust. I’ve been reading a lot about lust thanks to Rob Bell, lead pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and as I’m learning—he’s also quite a good writer.
Bell doesn’t get into the topic of lust until about the middle of his book SEX GOD, but one of my quirks is that when I buy a book, I like to skip around a bit and get the feel of the overall text before I actually sit and read from beginning to end.
So lust. If you’d asked me before I perused chapter four, I would have said that lust is a term that is used almost always in the context of sex. But of course, Bell also dispels the idea that sexuality is even all about sex, but about connectedness—and that some very sexual people can be not having any sex at all, and some people can have sex frequently but never really connect with anyone else. In fact, that’s what the whole book is about: the connections between sexuality and spirituality.
Fair play. So again back to the lust. Bell writes that “lust comes from a deep lack of satisfaction with life,” and goes on to write a little later that “…lust, over time, will always lead to despair. Which will always lead to anger. Lust always leads to anger.”
Aha. That rang a bell for me. These words you see, came as something of an answer for me the other day. I’ve been noticing that since I’ve gone on sugarlent and glutenlent, that I’m more easily angered than before. Especially in the car. Those of you who know me well know that I tend towards some lite road rage and it only seems to be exacerbated when I give up or abstain from other things. It was like the craving that the sugar was fulfilling had popped up as road rage when I suppressed the sugar. It became a game of cosmic whack-a-mole. And it was exhausting. The road rage got to the point that I was cursing, literally cursing—out loud—my fellow drivers if they so much as looked at me funny. And I mean cursed so much the air turned blue. So much so that I would sit there in the driver’s seat and ask myself, “why am I doing this, there is no reason to be doing this, it’s not even fun or useful, what is going on?” And then that night I read those words—”lust always leads to anger.”
So if lust always leads to anger, what am I lusting after? Control maybe? A desire to be ahead of others? To get somewhere faster? A fear perhaps that I will not get to where I am going? The lack of patience to let others go before me?
I’m not sure those are the “real” lusts. And what those are for me may not be an appropriate subject of a blog post, but the outcome of years of potential therapy. But that wasn’t really my point in all this…
What I took away most from the chapter on lust was two-fold. (1) It allowed me to see things in a different manner, like a signpost pointing the way to understanding that “this” (my anger) might really be “that” (whatever dissatisfaction my anger is a symptom of), and (2) that it is not the elimination of desire that is key. After all, as Bell points out:
“God made us to appreciate aesthetics: taste, smell, touch, hearing, sight. Shape, texture, consistency, color. It all flows from the endless creativity at the center of the universe and we were created to enjoy it.”
No, just squelching it is not a good idea. But those life forces do have to be redirected:
“If they don’t go into a few, select, disciplined pursuits that you are passionate about and are willing to give your life to, then they’ll dissipate into all sorts of urges and cravings that won’t even being to bring you the joy of that the ‘one thing’ could.”
Wow. I’ve heard this kind of talk before. In fact, Erwin said something very similar this morning when he talked about reprioritization and not getting sidetracked. It’s left me wondering what those few things are that I should be channeling my energies into. I have a few ideas—school and writing are one thing, my relationship with my roommates another, just to name a couple. What are some of these pursuits for you?