Shunt / by Michael Nichols

Your life is going nowhere.

You're depressed.

You're ruled by feelings and expectations.

You're riddled with cravings for days.

Your addictions are the shunt in your head, the thing that keeps you under, sedated, personality repressed, forgetting you're depressed.

This may seem all too familiar to you. You might know why, or you might not. At this point, maybe all you know is how you feel. Maybe that's all you think you have. Maybe you think that there is no better alternative.

I'm not talking about drugs--well, maybe I am, but maybe my definition of drugs is broader than yours. In this age, we tend to classify drugs very narrowly. Interestingly enough, people find themselves addicted to things that are much, much less obvious than a needle or a joint.

Take, for example, attention. We all know that person who does ridiculous things simply to grab the eyes of spectators. Maybe you are that person. Heck, maybe I'm that person... Or the guy who puts on a show to get the girl, but he lays it on way too thick. Some of us are like that, and some of us are annoyed by people like that; but really, what's happening in their head? Where is the attention lacking? Do they know someone who by all rights should be close to them but feels very far away?

This is just one example. What about the video game addict? What about the guy with a borderline vampirical thirst for information? What about the nosy girl? What about the obsessive stalker? What about the bully? What about the stage-hog? What about the recluse? What about the conspiracy theorist? What about the workaholic? I could go on and on about the extremes to which we take things that were built for good by a good God.

It's so easy to take what God made good and treat it as though it were God Himself. After all, the things that God made good, meaning everything, can be used to better our lives. It's easy to see how this could be turned on its head with things like alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, being used as an attempt to erase the pain from the slate of our souls. Just like psychiatric drugs, most things, be they substance or a social construct, can be turned on their head and abused to make us feel better when things are all wrong, rather than to bring us to a state in which we can properly think about and address the things that are wrong. It's easy to see things that are abnormal, but it's not so easy to see when things that are commonplace become what they were not intended to be

Worst of all, and really most potent of all, people often become our drug. Friendship, companionship, romance, relationship--it's not the constructs themselves that we fixate upon, hopefully. It's the people on the other end of these conduits that become our drug, and yes, we were designed to be good to and for each other... but when does love become dependence? When does interest become obsession? How long does it take to turn something that was made to build up into something that can just as quickly destroy? We were meant to subdue the earth, and what's more, care for it. That care is even more intense for the other people of the world. We were designed to care for this world together.

But the world is fallen.

Sure. There are still people in the world who care, but it is not without difficulty, and a barrier now stands between us and God's original plan. That barrier is selfishness. The bricks that form it are made of the things and people we use to feel better, safer, in this fallen world; but if what is on the other side of that barrier, our original design, God's good plan for us--if it really is good, why are we running from it? Why don't we return?

The shunt in our heads keeps us feeling better. It keeps us calm. It keeps us subdued. It keeps us from taking risks. It keeps us from making moves. It keeps us sedated. It keeps us asleep. It keeps us dreaming. It keeps us delusional. It keeps us... dependent. Addicted. We hurt for a fix. We'd rather die in our sleep than get up and in Jesus' name fight the things, the temptations, the tough times, the enemies in the spirit, that would have us die in our sleep.

What would it take for you to rip the shunt from your head?