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A truly satisfying alternative to bingeing

From the Christian Science Sentinel - May 13, 2019


Bingeing. The word may conjure up lighthearted images of not being able to say no to the next video offering on Netflix or YouTube, or of young men and women unable to peel themselves away from their video gaming. But if these things happen again and again, they can rob our lives of a healthy balance. Maybe we’re even dealing with a darker bingeing habit, drawn into periodic consumption of alcohol, drugs, or pornography in an attempt to find fulfillment or satisfaction. Or struggling to know how to respond to friends or relatives immersed in such activities.  

Regardless of one’s personal connection with the issue of bingeing, it’s a challenge that calls for more than just a sigh and a wish to bring a change of behavior. But many have found consecrated prayer and spiritual reasoning powerful enough to break compulsion’s hold.

Many have found consecrated prayer and spiritual reasoning powerful enough to break compulsion’s hold

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines binge, in part, as “an act of excessive or compulsive consumption.” That word consumption gives me pause. Even when we are dealing with our day-to-day habits, as we pursue everything from food and clothing to new ideas, we can seem to be nothing more than consumers struggling to find a balance between too much and not enough. Satisfaction—the “sweet spot” of just enough—can be elusive. Bingeing, though, can take that to the limit. It is a quest for satisfaction that can often get out of control, in which we seem unable or unwilling to stop a behavior that would keep us endlessly consuming to fill a perceived void in our lives. 

But what if that’s looking in the wrong direction for satisfaction? What if our lives, health, and happiness are not predicated on some fundamental need to consume, and our satisfaction is actually built in, so to speak? Through Christian Science, that’s what I’ve come to understand and experience. I’ve found a different view of myself and others—a view brought to light by the Bible with its timeless message of God’s love for us as His sons and daughters—that we are spiritual and complete because we are made in God’s, Spirit’s, image and likeness.

Mary Baker Eddy established the teachings of Christian Science on a spiritual sense of the Bible’s teachings. Christian Science shows how God’s healing power, which Jesus taught and demonstrated, is still available to us today, and enables us to find healing based on this understanding of ourselves as God’s spiritual creation. So in our efforts to find freedom from bingeing of any kind—or to help others in seeking their freedom—we don’t need to begin with some analytical process that examines what’s missing in our lives and then try to fill that void in some material way. We can start with the scripturally revealed and God-inspired perception that man truly is spiritual and whole. 

According to Christ Jesus, our fundamental, and satisfying, purpose as God’s children is to represent God.

We are not self-made beings, separate from divinity and required to perpetually fulfill the demands of the physical senses, whether they argue for constant self-entertainment or the indulgence of an addictive, sensual appetite. Everything that’s truly ours is actually God’s, and therefore spiritual. This means that in reality we can’t ever be separated from good or lose our divine wholeness and wholesomeness. Many have found that a sense of having a void in their lives disappeared as the spiritual understanding of God and of what we are as God’s image and likeness became clearer to them. This healing of thought is what naturally subdues, and can permanently stop, the tendency to binge, or to indulge in any other obsessive, materialistic behavior or thought patterns. A feeling of a void is in itself a lie about our identity, and we have the right to see that God’s goodness is present right where the void seems to be.

The truth of our spirituality doesn’t mean neglecting normal human needs such as eating and drinking, nor does it prevent us from enjoying movies and playing games, etc. But it does mean refusing to concede that man finds real satisfaction in anything other than God, good. According to Christ Jesus, our fundamental, and satisfying, purpose as God’s children is to represent God—to show how good He is by being good and doing good ourselves. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Through this natural reflection of the goodness of God in our lives we find satisfaction. Doing God’s will—loving ceaselessly and fearlessly, as Jesus commended to his followers (see John 15:12, 13) is endlessly satisfying. “Who doth His will—His likeness still— / Is satisfied,” Mrs. Eddy wrote in one of her poems (Poems, p. 79). 

Our innate wholeness and satisfaction are secure in Christ, the divine Truth that embraces all of us. We can humbly pray to open up our thought to the calm influence of Christ, and let this influence govern our thinking and bring moderation to our actions. Referring to Christ, Mrs. Eddy wrote in another of her poems: 

Fill us today
With all thou art—be thou our saint,
Our stay, alway. 
(Poems, p. 29

Christ, not compulsive behavior, is what truly fills us.

We all have been given the right and capacity to experience true joy and satisfaction through giving freely and unselfishly, unhindered by any feelings of lack, boredom, or fear that would keep us closeted inside a false, material sense of ourselves. The power of God is sufficient to break the hold of this false sense, and it’s a joy to be able to bear faithful witness to the freedom that comes from God, whether for ourselves or others.

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