Today we are going to examine the consequences of our illusions. Often, we find it difficult to accept reality because of our aspirations. Even if we have healthy and ethical desires, we don’t always achieve many of them in this life. In addition, we often have to give up pursuing these desires, even if they are good ones, for various reasons. It is not without reason that Jesus Christ said that those who want to follow him and serve him must die to self, take up their cross, lose their lives, and this, one day at a time.
Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.Matthew 16:25
Losing your life can mean giving up the pursuit of some dream, so that God’s will be done in your life, and this is not easy for anyone. However, in surrendering our desire, when you understand what God really wants from you, it becomes possible to liberate our self to pursue a life of service that gives meaning to our existence.
Much of the anxiety, sadness, anger, and frustration at unfulfilled desires can be alleviated when we die to self, to our desires, leaving the consequences in the hands of the Creator of the universe. It is a paradox that you die in order to live. Nature teaches us that the seed needs to be buried in the earth in order to grow into a mature plant that produces fruit.
Many of our mental sufferings can be rooted in illusions, desires, and attachments. God never requires anything from us without giving us something better in return, even if it involves a loss of material goods, fame, or social power. Living on illusions and desires can hold us back. Giving up our own desires for God’s sake brings relief. This doesn’t mean that we’ll be left empty-handed and have a sad or mediocre life. On the contrary, we become enthusiastic when we surrender to God. Did you know that the meaning of the word enthusiasm is to be full of God? Enthusiasm means being filled with God.
Jesus’ recommendation in the Gospels, in this context of our dreams and personal desires, is to die to self, to live with joy and unselfish attitudes produced by the influence of the Holy Spirit. People who are very controlling live in the illusion of control. This produces a lot of stress because so many things are beyond our control. But thinking we do, we continue in the illusion, wearing ourselves out needlessly.
For example, we can’t control people’s attitudes, what they think, what they feel, what they do. People will do what they want, not what we want, because we have no control over them. The more you try to control someone, the more tension and stress will arise within yourself and in that relationship that you actuate, craving control.
The most corrupt people live under the illusion that acquiring material goods in an illicit way will make them happy. It is an illusion to seek happiness in deceit and fraud. It is impossible to obtain inner peace in this way. You can even acquire considerable social and economic power, but I’ve treated numerous famous, wealthy people who have become depressed, addicted to drugs, suffering from difficult to treat insomnia, exaggerated fears, excessive anxiety, and some have even committed suicide, because they lived in the illusion of happiness based on material wealth, fame and social power.
When we see that control is an illusion, we can finally let go and surrender to God and let Him control our lives. This is the path to relief, serenity and mental health. And it’s not a passive attitude of doing nothing and crossing our arms. There will be plenty to be done, just now under the influence of God’s Spirit and no longer under the control of a complicated self.
Some of us, sincerely and unconsciously, try to fill a sense of loneliness and emptiness that we feel even with many people around us, through the illusion of solving it with something outside of ourselves, be it material wealth or a romantic passion, for example. It’s not uncommon for people to become compulsive shoppers, addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, passion, the acquisition of social, economic and political power, addicted to food, to gambling, in an unconscious attempt, most of the time, to fill this mental void.
However, there is only one effective way for our lives to have meaning, producing serenity and noble purpose: it is the search for spiritual strength, the daily victory over our character defects, and the search for an attitude of service without conflicts of interest. Think about it and avoid looking in places, in people, in philosophies, ideologies, and objects to find peace and meaning in life, which is only found in goodness, justice, and truth.
The way out of our deep emotional pain, emptiness, and spiritual need does not lie in economic power, in the illusion of control over others and reality, or in drugs. It doesn’t lie in acquiring fame or any kind of power, except spiritual power, which is obtained as Jesus Christ said, by surrendering everything to Him, dying to self, losing your life in gratitude and love for what He has done, and does for those who believe in Him and surrender to Jesus unconditionally.
Give up the illusion of control; place that burden on God, the Creator of the universe. Let Him fulfill your dreams in the way, manner, and time that He sees fit. You can’t have mental maturity without spiritual health. Pray to God, the Creator of the universe, open your heart to Him, and search the Holy Scriptures for the truth, for the way God indicates how you can have goodness, justice and truth within you, which is a healing process, a miraculous divine therapy that comes to us from above. We can’t produce this in ourselves. May God help us to surrender to Him one day at a time, in the faith that by doing so, He will take over our lives, and then we will have enthusiasm, being filled with God.
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Dr. Cesar Vasconcellos de Souza is working as a psychiatrist and international speaker. He is author of 3 books, columnist of the health magazine “Vida e Saúde” for 25 years, and has a regular program on the “Novo Tempo” TV channel.