By Dawn Obrecht, M.D.
The question has been posed: Are we human beings having a spiritual experience or spiritual beings having a human experience? The skeptics among us will say, "neither, we are just human beings, nothing before or after this life we are in now and spirituality is bogus." If that is you, consider changing how you think...pretend for a while. What if this life on planet earth is just a blip in our being? Maybe before we came here, we were spirits; part of, yet separate from God. Maybe we are sent, or decide, to arrive on earth for a period of time and accomplish God's mission for us. We get here and get distracted. Activities, people, stuff, all become wedges between us and our spiritual selves...we become our bodies, our behavior, our thoughts, neglecting our spirit and growing ever separated from our God. After some time existing in this separation, we begin to hurt.
STOP. Feel, reflect, think. Are you restless? Do you have ongoing nagging discontentment? An empty feeling? Or worse, outright unhappiness? We seek ways to feel better, to be "okay". Some of us develop addictions that further rob us of ourselves, stealing our relationships with family and friends, our self-respect, and our peace and joy. We may look happy on the surface, but harbor deep pain. We may live in anger and resentment while appearing very satisfied and productive. As we go through the years, we try harder to get what we think we want, what we believe will make us feel good...something external. We live in fear of loosing something we have or not getting something we want; the fear drives us to either become "human doings", frantically trying to get something, or to cover ourselves and blur our feelings with a substance or process...addiction can be very useful, temporarily getting us out of our pain.
At some point the façade crumbles and we are left with the reality of the empty self. Kings, presidents, CEOs, winners of every possible contest, even billionaires have all found that none of the above brings sustained happiness. Many become bitter and die a lonely death; some kill themselves to escape the pain of an empty life, even while surrounded by the people and stuff they have collected. Conversely, some paupers, some of the sick and injured and those surviving death of loved ones and holocausts of all kinds, find inner peace not just in spite of but because of lessons learned from a life of pain. They learn what is and is not valuable.
The happy and the miserable tell and demonstrate, over and over, that the solution is not external. More material success, activity, fame or fortune does not equate to inner peace. What then? Hmmm. What if the only relief is to reconnect with God and your spiritual self? Go back to the idea that we began as spirits connected to infinite God. Wrapped up in our human doings, we neglect our relationship with God. We become lonely, empty superficial beings. The void grows, perhaps occasionally being masked by the success-du-jour. Eventually we realize something is missing and not reparable by ordinary means. Whether in desperate pain or simply aware of nagging emotional discomfort, whether rich or poor, addicted or not, happy marriage and many close friends or a loner, we want more peace and contentment, less irritability and restlessness. If we humble ourselves and ask, if we seek God, we find Him. He is right where we left Him and happy to have us back...we moved, not Him. By repairing our relationship with Him, we find inner peace, whatever the external particulars of our life have become. We reunite with our spiritual selves and fill the void, returning to our former relationship with God, the one we had when we were...hmmm...maybe just little spirits floating around in the clouds. Having thus become spiritually fit and centered, we can choose how close to God we want to be and with that, how much we want to fill our lives with peace.
Excerpts from Mission Possible:
Dr. Dawn Obrecht is the only MD addiction medicine specialist on the western slope of Colorado. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and her office is in Steamboat Springs. She teaches a communication course to medical students at the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver email@example.com.