There are 2 schools of thought when it comes to soothing a baby...those parents who soothe their children and those who believe the child should learn to self soothe. We've been the parents to soothe our children, but are always happy when our child surprises us and learns on their own to self soothe (meaning without coersion). I haven't really thought about my own self soothing practises...but a book I am reading called "Bold Love" and also my 7 Days of Goodness has shown me that infact I self soothe...maybe a little too much! (Baby soothing is not the topic here, but I do find it an interesting subject in itself!)
The methods I use to self soothe aren't wrong in themselves, Dan Allender refers to them as "legitimate but ineffective". These (what have now become rituals for me, like coffee, phone calls, etc) actions are not wrong per say, but it's the reason I lean on them. I lean on these activities for comfort, for freedom from my reality when it is God who I should lean on and seek to fill me up. Because I don't want to "struggle with God". Dan Allender writes "...finding life through soothing the soul rather than from struggling with God."
What to do? When I feel those moments that I need...comfort, mercy, freedom, love, peace, joy, contentment, some sort of completion...I need to seek out God first. The coffee can come later as a pleasure rather than meeting a need that only God can meet. As I see it, if we fill our deepest longings with trivial, even immoral rituals we won't work through the problem of the situation. We'll just become 'addicts'. Now that I am aware I am going to experiment with this theory and seek and struggle with God first. Then enjoy my coffee, or chocolate, as pure goodness (gifts in themselves) and not a soul soother!
Another quote from Allender: "If God will not act on my (or others') behalf, then I will step in to make up for His lack." Whoa! That's me! I am a fixer. I really need to let God be God. This one I am going to have to think about a lot more. Your thoughts?
I really like this quote from Bold Love too...
"We are to live with the ongoing cycle of anticipation/sorrow. If we 'admit' our deep desire is not fully met, then we can embrace the reality of a sojourner who has not yet found rest and peace. It is not 'abnormal' to be empty, sad, and lonely at the deepest place in our souls that was fashioned for eternity - to be dissatisfied with the empty provisions of this world, sad over the destruction of beauty, lonely for the companionship of lost friendships. It is not only not abnormal, but wrong to be otherwise." pg 142.
Ah ha! I am normal. I think all too often we forget this reality in which we live and then seek to make all things 'right'. But reality is they will not all be right until our union with God. Sigh. This is such good news! Now I can 'live' with that feeling/longing inside me,this thorn in the flesh. I can hunger after God and seek him, but it won't be completely full until Heaven (thank goodness for glimpses to keep us hopeful!)
Allender quotes Fredrick Buechner from "The Magnificent Defeat": "The birth of righteousness and love in this stern world is always a virgin birth. It is never men nor the nations of men not all the power and wisdom of men that bring it forth but always God." Lord birth in me love and righteousness.