The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2020
Ed: What is the role of pain in addiction? How can we learn from our pain?
Seth: The Book of Waking Up draws from so many sources, including the work of physician and addiction specialist Dr. Gabor Maté. In his book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, he wrote, “The question is never, ‘Why the addiction?’ but ‘Why the Pain?’” In his medical experience (and in the experience of so many addicts), the human desire to numb pain drives any old coping mechanism.
Pain, though, is an important part of the spiritual life. C.S. Lewis writes, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
In other words, pain can be a thunderous wakeup call. It shouts, “Something is broken!” What’s more, it indicates the exact point where Christ’s healing work is needed.
Ed: Talk to me about “disordered attachments.” What should we do about them?
Seth: From time to time, we all get our attachments out of whack. We elevate material or food or alcohol or sex or whatever over the God who gave them to us.
But there’s good news. If we confess our disordered attachments, “he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). After that confession, make your way to a trusted counselor, pastor, or priest and chart a course for reordering your life.
*** LISTEN to a podcast interview with the author