Science in Christian Perspective
A Letter to Young People
SATISFACTION, DRUGS AND IDENTIFICATION
James G. Ashwin
Health and Welfare
Canada Bureau of Drugs
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
From: JASA 25 (September 1973): 96-97.
Who Are You?
Who are you? What is your identity? What are you meant for? Some people spend a lot of time on these questions. If a person is satisfied as to who he is and what he is doing, he will not be anxious, he will not worry, and he will not be fruitlessly searching for other kinds of satisfaction.
Your home, family and lifestyle all make up facets of your identity. As you grow op and test life's processes daily, you determine whether the things around you are satisfying or not. Dissatisfaction leads your mind and body to look around, often desperately, for an alternate interest to soothe unpleasant moods and make your life satisfying. "A Search For Identity" really means that you realize you are in the wrong place or doing the wrong thing, and you will be restless until you find that work that you were created to do.
Solving Your Problems
Let's look first at how you solve your own problems. Read a book, play hockey, eat, go and pout and rationalize-yes all these can satisfy and will very often remove, at least temporarily, your depression. But if your anxiety is because of a personal problem, sometimes this abnormal feeling is best removed by solving a difficulty with your parents, a teacher, or a close friend.
Many people seek to solve their problems by overeating, using drugs, or sexual excess. Temporary satisfaction may be achieved by such indulgence, but the problem is not solved, and your whole body is not really doing what it was designed for. What happens?
With frustration, or when the difficulty does not go away by itself, you may try to put the blame on someone else. This may be a near or dear one who becomes an object of resentment, hostility, antagonism and hatred. Anger and rage cut off communication with possibilities of vengeance or violence and family breakups, or running away from home.
Turning to drugs for satisfaction, the frustrated person finds only temporary relief. There also could be a strangely pleasant "trip", possibly drunken as with alcohol, and yet it may extend all the way to permanent mental sickness and even death. After an apparently "successful" trip, trying for a repeated thrill or for extended satisfaction may lead to larger doses, more (hopefully) exciting wallops and more (unexpected) side effects. But without any control over the kinds or degree of effect he is getting, the witless show-off is playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette. At this point only a miracle can enable the youngster to find himself and repent of his waywardness.
If the drug used is a stimulant (cocaine, caffeine, amphetamine), one may have the illusion that he can rise above his troubles. When a depressant is used (opiates, aspirin, alcohol), one is more relaxed and may easily forget or sleep away pain, self-pity or trouble.
Drugs in these categories that are properly prescribed by medical doctors can be decidedly useful to a sick person in need. But uncontrolled and unauthorized use of these substances are just as decidedly harmful. Distorting drugs like L.S.D., marijuana (not always in this category), mescaline and others provide a certain amount of chumminess amongst similar individuals of a peer group, but can be even more harmful than the stimulants (ups) and depressants (downs) in not having a reliable source, or a well-known pharmacology, and can cause profoundly abnormal behavorial effects.
Drugs have been claimed as a "way" to find oneself, but among those who have tried the illegal use of drugs and not become hooked on them are those who would be first to describe drugs as a chaotic road to nowhere. Those who have decided to quit drugs were some of the first to learn their real identity.
Who are you? Having been provided with a beautifully articulated body and a normally functioning physiological system, you are at the same time the product of your environment. Your brain has recorded millions of impulses from events you merely considered as sights or sounds, tastes or touches. Knowledge, experience and abilities have all been programmed into your brain and its many ramifications, a computer network that is a gift to you from a loving God. Yet, what are you and who are you? All the complexities of life, forever changing and increasing in number either make one's life more complete or more distressing, more satisfying or more mixed up.
Happiness is Knowing Your Identity
It is an immensely encouraging thing to see a person fitting into his job, responsibilities and environment so perfectly that there could he no one happier and no business more flourishing. It is like the small tape cassette that fits into the recorder and plays beautiful music. That happens because the cassette tape recorder was designed to do that very thing. And if a person is doing exactly what he was created to do, he won't have an identity crisis. Happiness is knowing your identity as well as you know your own name. It is satisfying. If you are a mechanic, you won't be happy as a pastry cook.
The Christian sees his place in life identified just as specifically as he mechanic. The identifying role of a Christian is knowing closely related to God. He depends on God for his solid foundation in life, for his source of truth, and for his eternal hope. His reliance on an ever-loving God provides a faith to live by, and a source of peace and satisfaction that is close by, deeply personal and caring. Not only can the Christian pray to his God, but the dialogue flows both ways as the identification and trust become more complete.
When we begin to communicate with our God whom we recognize as our Creator, then we find our personal lives suddenly meaningful. Everything begins to show a new purposefulness. Satisfaction shows itself in every trial, every victory or defeat. When God is behind the scenes, the stark pictures that portray life deserve a new interpretation, and become complete only when His purposes are considered. Ultimately, the Christian who is trusting God sees the rich promises of the Bible coming to fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Ordinary people suddenly become identified as those to whom power was given to become the sons of God (John 1; 12), by believing in His Name.
Identified with Him
Thus we can rejoice with all of creation, all of God's creatures, who know their Creator. We are identified with Him as sons of God by adoption. As a member of this royal family, we find ourselves sharing fellowship with a great company of identified people, all designed to love and honor the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This indeed is satisfaction.