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Monday, May 22, 2017

Conquering depression, addiction, and more

We are on this earth to conquer all things. Many (all?) of us struggle with sins of the flesh: emotional issues, physical issues, mental issues. These issues provide obstacles to happiness. Solving them is not a matter of taking something away. They are symptoms of a lack of truth, not the presence of something extra.

The world tries to fix these issues with chemicals, counseling, and sophisticated behaviors. None of these things actually fixes the problem.

The solution is to learn the truth whose lack causes the condition. The truth is hard, and few want to accept it. They prefer to remain in the dark, because they think it is safer/happier.

The happiness God provides is constant and independent of environment or situation. The happiness the world provides is fleeting, situational, and superficial.

A man or woman of God can have everything in his life stripped away from him and remain happy. A man or woman of God can witness extreme suffering in others and, though overcome with compassion, will maintain his inner peace. A man or woman of God will remain in peace even when brought to suffer the most excruciatingly painful death.

Men and women of God are not born this way. They acquire the necessary truth to make them this way.

Temptation occurs when our desire for something exceeds what is justified by truth. The cure for temptation is to see things as they really are--to obtain a more correct and complete view of the situation and to believe it.

When it comes to temptation, people erroneously teach that the cure is to avoid trigger situations. If you are addicted to sexual sin, avoid naked people. If you are addicted to alcohol, avoid bars. And so on. We are judged for the intents of your heart. You can hide yourself in a rubber room for the rest of your life, but if looking on a naked person still causes you to lust after him/her, has your heart changed? No, it has not.

Do you realize that God sees all of us, including without our clothes on? Did God have to shield his eyes from Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden to prevent him from thinking impure thoughts? How does he see all things and still not think impure thoughts? Because he sees things as they really are.

If you want to break temptation, ask God to show you not only the dressed up, sweetened part of a situation as sold you by the world, but also the undesirable portions of it.

No matter the situation, where there is a commandment, there is a reason. God created us to be rational beings. Research shows that even the hardest heroin addicts will choose to quit when presented with the negative consequences of their actions. When, in faith, you obey God and ask him to show you the reason why, you will receive.

Addiction comes when we believe a lie. Most addicts are addicts because of disappointment and loneliness. They are optimists, and find reality fails to meet their expectations. They turn to the subject of their addiction to hide the gap between expectations and reality. To cure their addictions, they must admit--deep in their hearts--that the deficit between expectations and reality can only be fixed in three ways: Either lower your expectations, improve your reality, or both. Addictions will never, ever fix the root problem. In every case, they will make the deficit worse.

Most of what we perceive to be sweet in life is at best bittersweet, and much of it is in fact bitter. It is interesting that many would claim that a realistic view of life is dark and depressing. In fact, a realistic view of life--not hiding any of the warts--is the only way to encounter true happiness. This is because you learn that anything peddled as happiness in life is fleeting at best, and a total illusion at worst. True happiness consists exclusively of experiencing God. As a being from a higher realm, he is the only thing we have access to in this life that is above the fallen nature of this world.

The secret to being happy in this life is to accept what you cannot change, recognize what you can change, and focus your efforts on changing what you can change.

  • Accept what you cannot change. Why worry about growing watermelons in winter? There is nothing you can do about it. A great deal of the anxiety and depression we feel is from focusing on problems that we cannot actually solve.
  • Recognize what you can change. A great deal of our suffering in this life is due to situations that can, in fact, be overcome. The way may not be obvious, and it may not be obvious that you have the necessary potential. You have to open your eyes and recognize these opportunities and the costs involved.
  • Focus your efforts on changing what you can change. Don't spend an ounce of effort complaining about what you cannot control. Similarly, don't neglect the work needed to change what can be changed. Most change is not easy. It takes a great deal of sacrifice. Keep your goals in front of you, and live conscientiously.
A relationship with God can yield these outcomes to a greater extent than anything else can. He can and will reveal the what, why, and how. He will show us things as they really are.

Happiness is meant to be the outcome and condition of this life, yet so many of us are unwilling to turn to God, whose interaction with us is the only thing that can lead us to it.