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The Deep-Seated Death Wish

Are we lazy? It’s not a popular subject, but it’s also not what we think. When we think laziness, it’s couch potato, not willing to work etc. We then think the cure is hard work, drive, motivation, passion. It’s not.

I read a great article by college student Tala Strauss on sloth (laziness) recently. The Greek term for sloth is Acedia. It’s a state of listlessness and not caring about one’s position or condition in the world. Put another way, it’s not recognizing and appreciating our purpose. Tala notes it’s a “deep-seated death wish.”

She writes:

Acedia poisons our inner well of joy with apathy. It is more than dropping out—of college, of work, of daytime—and more than laziness. Acedia is saying “no” to the “yes” that God said when He created us and called us good. It is suffocation of God’s living breath in us, and rebellion against God’s interaction with His creation.

Yet most of us fight to overcome this state by getting busy. We fill our lives with things: cars, jewelry, clothes. We seek happiness, purpose, and fulfillment externally through health trainers, life coaches, our kids, our work, our success. None of these are bad, but they’re empty without purpose – without God.

In the end, we’re lonely. God wants to be in relationship with us – that’s the Good News that Christians so often botch. Our lives are not to be built on or powered by worldly standards of success and industry. They’re to be alive with action, purpose, and joy knowing God has our back.

Tala ends with this…

The joy of being loved in community inspires action—not busyness, but liveliness. According to Pieper, ‘the opposite of acedia is not the industrious spirit of the daily effort to make a living, but rather the cheerful affirmation by man of his own existence, of the world as a whole, and of God—of Love, that is, from which arises that special freshness of action.’

Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson


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  1. ulfried says:

    Astute observation of human behaviour patterns. Somehow makes a lot of sense to me – can identify. Could there be more to it though, the ‘busyness syndrome’?

    • Ted Olson says:

      Thanks for your comment. Yes the busyness syndrome is a great point. I think it too points to our lack of connection to God and community – and our purpose. That said, it’s a scientific diagnosis, pointing out the symptoms. I think Tala gets at the cause.

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