Facing Your Motives
“It is dangerous to know, but it is more dangerous not to know.” -Rollo May
Over the last week, I’ve been reading a very compelling book on addictions for a class I’m taking this summer.
What has struck me about this book is a simple truth about how we live our lives and the choices we make. It’s easy to read about hard-core addicts, people living on the streets who are consistently using and abusing the drugs we would consider really bad, and feel like they are vastly different from us. We are worlds away.
The author, a medical doctor at an addictions facility, talks about how honest his patients are with their desires. For some of them, at any given moment, they are solely looking for the next fix and will do anything to get it. Sure there are games, attempts at manipulation, lies told...but when called out on it, the author talks about the honesty that usually follows - “Yeah, I am looking for that next hit, Doc.”
Learning to Be Honest with Our Motives
What hit me was his realization of how deeply these hard-core addicts see through people and all of the games we play with each other. The drugs have stripped them of pretense - reducing them to their desires and fulfillment of these desires. This can sound judgmental, but his conclusion was refreshing: he is his most authentic self when he is with his patients.
He goes on further to point out that we all, to some degree, manipulate, lie, and play games to get what we want; we just don’t see it as such a brazen act because it’s not necessarily to get a fix from a drug. In other words, on most days I’m seeking my desires and the fulfillment of those desires, I’m just not ‘broken’ enough to admit it.
I’m willing to hide behind my good works or offers to serve. I’m willing to pretend like I’m not actually looking to fulfill my selfish desires of praise and acclaim. It’s true of all of us, most of us simply have not had a drug strip away our ability to pretend like it’s not there.
I’m humbled by this. I’m humbled by how quickly I can explain my actions...how quickly I can look for the next fix of praise or love - passing it off as a ‘character trait’ or ‘quirk’ rather than facing it. What would it look like for me to be stripped of pretense and be more honest about my motives?
Honesty Leads to Shift in Motives
Hopefully, two things would happen: I would become more aware of myself and how I interact with people, and hopefully my motives would begin to change. You would think the horror of having to say out loud to someone: “...actually, I’m just using you because I need to feel appreciated right now...” would keep me from doing this - but the research shows negative consequences aren’t enough to change our behavior. Maybe in the short run, but ultimately we have to have a total shift in what we believe, in how we see the world and others around us.
I’m humbled that this is the work of Christ in me. That I can still contain this mix of selfish motives while pursuing desires that are good. I’m thankful for a body of believers around me who can love me despite these selfish desires. The further I get into the darkness of the human heart (both my own and those who sit across from me sharing), the more convinced I am of the importance of a community around us who we can be absolutely real with - no pretense, no games. It’s the beauty of the disciples approaching Christ with all of their incredible questions that seem so obtuse to us as readers. It’s the beauty of Christ using those same men to spread the Kingdom of God.
We cannot wait until we are stripped of all pretense because we have nowhere else to go. We have to start living authentically with each other now to encounter the real relationships being offered to us through the love of Christ.
How can you be more honest in your motives this week?