Saturday, July 9, 2011

Too Much

“Too much of anything is no good for you.”

“You’ll make yourself sick!”

Sagely wisdom, and words from your mom, all are saying that we can want too much of a good thing. “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” And often these words are backed up by doctors: “Too much caffeine causes cancer” (or cures it, depending on which study you choose). Too much strict parenting, too much overtime, too much ice cream and even too much church are said to be bad for you. But when does a passion become an obsession? When does something which is good in itself become a bad thing because of our excesses? Is there a general line which can be defined, a warning point?

For myself, I have defined two warning points which I try to be on the alert for: 1) When I say to myself: “I wish I had more time for (some good thing)”, or 2) When someone, and especially when a friend, says to me “You’re really passionate about (something)”. The first instance is my usual “look the other way”, to avoid thinking about a problem by pointing to something else. The second instance usually is when a friend, a REAL friend, tells me I’m losing my objectivity about something --- and if I should hear this comment from a total stranger, I’ve really LOST my objectivity. In either case, I’ve been caught doing something which is taking an inordinate amount of my energy, and crowding out other things. I’ve lost balance in my life. Most often when I am doing too much of a thing, it is taking too much of my time, the most precious thing I have to give. I forget that my focus on “too much” of something implies that something else gets “too little”. And unfortunately, the thing that gets too little is often more important.

My thoughts on this subject began the other night at chapel. A young man mentioned that he was there praying and re-learning about his Catholic faith, which he had lost while in college. He didn’t say it, but I suspect that too much partying, too much focus his newfound freedoms (not to mention probably too much liberal teaching), and in general too much of everything else crowded out his faith life. It seems to happen to a lot of youth these days. This young man focused too little on his faith, and lost it; he was most fortunate to have realized his mistake. So many people who focus on “too much” of something, lose something else, forever. Lost faith, lost friends, lost spouses, lost family, any of these can be lost forever if we don’t pay them sufficient attention, if we focus “too much” on something of less importance.

And what about you, my friends? Do you wish you had more time for something? Has someone commented to you about how you are really passionate about something? Do you really think about the implications of your answers to these questions? Is something taking up “too much” of your time?

And then there’s the most important question of all: Is a really important SOMEONE taking up “too little” of your time?

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