My ravenous appetite for false rests
The world of advertising is always screaming at me, stirring my strong envy for possession of certain things belonging to others.
As I download advertising into my psyche, it entices me to satisfy my turbulent and ravenous soul cravings for ego, satisfaction, and rest. I fall prey to worldly seduction. I think to myself, “If only I could grab as much power, money, travel, and extra-marital sexual pleasure as this material world offers me, then I will be satisfied.”
But ironically, I have found that the more I have given myself with abandon to seeking power, money, travel, and extra-marital sex, the more unsatisfied I’ve become. In fact, I am astonished that I experience exactly the opposite. I am perplexed to see just how stressed, depressed, and tired I am after giving myself to this seductively enticing lifestyle dangled before me in the media.
Thus I always need to confess, that despite my profession of belief in God, I have functioned most of my life striving to fill my soul with the temptations of the material world. But my experience has only left me tired and carrying heavy loads of debt and failed expectations, causing me to feel disillusioned and depressed. There are many times I feel as if I am dragging a tired and worn out body, with decreasing motivation to chase after whatever material pleasures this world has to offer.
So how does advertising provoke my coveting self in everyday life?
Coveting a prestigious career, possession, and pleasures
Nowhere do my covetous attitudes get more aroused than in my relationships to friends who appear to have it all. This is where the world of advertising really does its enticing work. It translates from audiovisual to real life experience. I see my friends buying in and loving it.
Lately, I’ve been paying more careful attention to my inner self talk, before, during, and after conversations with friends. The more we talk about our strengths: knowledge, interests, exciting opportunities, or career, the more I feel envy welling up within me.
When I listen to someone I perceive as especially confident and successful, I find myself envying their: position, influence, intelligence, social skills, pay grade, or the adventurous lifestyle if affords them.
In a few moments I can easily find myself feeling worthless in comparison to them and questioning the validity of my work. My pay doesn’t measure up. I don’t have the influence. I don’t have the success stories, status, money, or accomplishments to point to.
Even strangers to me can do me in. I watch as a cool dude with sunglasses pulls up in a seductively hot luxury sports car. He looks so cool. In that moment I wonder if I have made a mistake about my life direction and investments. He looks like he is nailing life.
His car is perfectly flawless and each square inch is sparkling. My minivan is full of kids and their mess. My van’s exterior is marred by scrapes, mismatching colours, and varying degrees of dust and grime. In that moment, if I weigh my life by what advertising tells me, I have utterly failed. The guy in the luxury car wins. I envy his car and his seemingly carefree and flaunting lifestyle. I too want to be the self made man that can flaunt my stuff.
Media is always shaping and stimulating my appetite for female beauty, romance, and sex. I develop hungry eyes. My eyes are conditioned and drawn to attractive women that have the shape highlighted in media. Due to my conditioning in media, I often find myself fantasizing about romance with beautiful women I meet. Not only am attracted to their beauty, I am tempted to lust after their beauty and entertain fantasies of sex. I am obsessed with beauty, romance, and sex with women other than my spouse.
My friends tell me that their family is about to go on yet another exciting vacation. I try to sound happy for them, but deep inside I am frustrated and feel envious. My health and budget don’t allow me such luxuries of travel. I resent my poor health and my restrictive income. But where do I get the idea that travel is so exciting and staying at home so blah? Why can’t I be content with where I am? It is a story I seem to have bought into.
Where do I get the idea that travel is so exciting and staying at home so blah?
Seeking to define myself everyday
In my everyday conversations with friends, I have noticed we devote much time and energy to sharing our accomplishments, latest purchases, vacation plans, or epic experiences (movies we’ve seen, social scenes we’ve been a part of, or epic sporting events that have happened).
In recent years, due to my low energy levels, I have to confess that I often find myself getting increasingly annoyed. Why? I get envious of what my friends can accomplish, what they can purchase, and where they can travel. I find it hard to be content and not compare my lot in life with others.
Here is the main thing. The messaging between my friends and I is subliminal. No one is daring enough to say it out loud. If we do say anything out loud, it is that we shouldn’t get our meaning in life from accomplishment, possessions, or the pleasures afforded us.
But what are we saying by the way we are living our lives and talking about them? Aren’t we still seeking to define our value from our accomplishments, influence, possessions, and pleasures? Even though we know intellectually that we don’t find our worth in ourselves, why is it so hard to live it? Why is envy so seductive?
Advertising is not just about the product I am being sold. It is a belief system, a narrative that is taking hold of me. The thoughts going through my head go like this. If I could just have “_______”, then I will feel accomplished and have people’s respect, then my possessions and pleasurable experiences will make me satisfied.
But I often fail to address my endless and un-satiated hunger when it comes to my envy. No matter my status, success, or experiences of pleasure, there always seems to be someone who outdoes me and makes me envy more. That is why I will be perpetually frustrated if I keep trying to achieve what my envy wants. I will never be satisfied. To strive for everything that advertising and comparison tells me is exhausting.
I need a deeper satisfaction
Why don’t I get it? Why don’t I pay attention to the fact that I am more than a material being? Why can’t I be more aware that I am a soul and a spirit who needs more than another materialistic or experiential binge? I easily forget that I was made to feast on something far more substantial than merely the material world.
Amidst my overconsumption of material worldly pursuits, Jesus gently invites me to identity my false rests, confess them and turn from them, but then calls me to turn to him to find my ultimate satisfaction and rest. In grace he invites me to come to him with my weary, broken, and tired out self. I need to come to him for the restoration of my soul.
Jesus gently invites me to identity my false rests, confess them and turn from them, but then calls me to turn to him to find my ultimate satisfaction and rest.
So what are the false rests I fall prey to? What are the promises that power, money, travel, and sex are saying to me? How have they fallen short and left me disillusioned, tired, weary, and heavy laden? Here is a stab at it.
My confessions of false rest: a poem
My being is always craving for more,
But at the cost of making my soul poor.
I want power, money, travel, and sex,
Won’t these bring me ultimate rest?
And so I feed my soul a material feast,
But my spirit is famished, a ravenous beast.
No matter the amount I dare consume,
Cravings increase, my satisfaction doomed.
Desire for power
Desire for power, control circumstance of life,
Seek to avoid all suffering and strife.
I deserve things to go my own way,
The basis for rest I long for every day.
Who am I kidding that my life I control,
Do I reign over all and the universe pull?
My suffering shouts that I am powerless.
Keeps me in a state of humble awareness.
Desire for money
I am always dreaming of making money more,
Advertising cues my next purchase in store.
My ultimate idol to flaunt my vast wealth,
Don’t forget security for my old age self.
My many cravings for social status ascent,
Reveal my greedy soul is twisted and bent.
Is making a name for myself the ultimate aim,
Why do I feel much disillusion and strain?
My possessions to flaunt and to show,
Break and fade from their alluring glow.
If it’s true boys with the most toys win,
Why do I feel the clutter of my greedy sin?
Desire for travel
Sites and experiences, culture and food,
All promising to put me in a better mood.
Herded like cattle into tincan so high,
Killing my sense of space and time in sky.
Exotic travel when and where I want?
Will fail to deliver, leaving aching haunt.
Promising rest, crammed frenzied pace,
My body fatigued by my jet set race.
Desire for sex
My attraction to beauty of body and face,
Entertaining romantic fantasies in rapid pace.
Stir my cravings for erotic physical pleasure,
To transcend my life’s numerous stressors.
But I see how beauty fades and bodies fail,
My romantic expectations have often paled.
My pleasure tolerance a diminished return,
Sexual addictions cause soul guilt and burn.
Empty and unsatisfied
The material world can’t bring my soul rest.
I’m a soul craving to be spiritually blessed.
Can God himself fill my gaping soul,
Mend my heart and make me whole?
If I put my hopes in a material world,
Grabbing all that I crave to possess.
I find myself tired, weary, and burnt out,
My attitudes mumbling, an endless pout.
Jesus says to me
Come to me with your weary and heavy soul,
Only I can restore you and make you whole.
Only I can give you the rest your soul desires,
To put out those craving, unquenchable fires.
Your soul is really craving spiritual food,
I am the bread of life and am what is good.
I am the wine that can quench soul thirst,
I am the feast that you need to feed on first.
Identify, come to your senses five,
Confess your false rests to come alive.
Turn from material cravings galore,
Rest in me, calling from distant shore.
Life, blessings, pleasures, and expedition,
Are only gifts from God’s hand, not satisfaction.
Any made ultimate will a tyrant make,
Learn from me the pace you should take.