I worry sometimes that I’m not going to get very close to God because I don’t feel a need inside of me to do so. I have been thinking about this, and I think it has to do with my culture and my upbringing. My family is middle-class, but that’s middle-class in the most affluent society ever on the face of the earth. It was pretty rare to feel a need for anything that couldn’t be fulfilled. I think this is the case with a lot of Americans – we don’t know how to need, and so it is hard to need God.
I think we’re anesthetized. We don’t feel the pain around us, and we don’t feel our own desperation when it does rear its ugly head, because we have so much other stuff to busy ourselves with. Even people who aren’t affluent have cable television and cellphones and iPods, and a general culture of business and consumerism that encourages us to avoid anything meaningful in favor of things that are immediately pleasurable, preferably purchased at a franchise of some sort.
Sometimes I think that if I was born someplace else, I would be this really spiritual person. This is a cop-out, I know, but its how I think. If you already understand need, need to that scrapes at your bones, need that is a fire burning everything inside of you for want of fuel, it is more possible to need God in that way, to understand and get in touch with that need directly. I think, for me and for maybe a lot of other people, if I have a need that can’t immediately be fulfilled, I get confused or avoid thinking about it. I don’t know how to deal with perpetually unanswered need, what I would call true longing, even desperation.
So God ends up being sort of a pal, a benign personage who occasionally hooks me up with a job interview and maybe protects me from car-accidents, and provides my mind with the endless entertainment of theological speculation. Someone to, you know, blog about.
But I do feel really strongly that I need something more than a pal, more than a system of beliefs, more than an ethical paradigm, more than a social justice program, more than a guilty feeling that I should pray and read scripture more, something more than community life…but if I actually have to endure so few unsatisfied needs, how can I let my need for God be real?