There is a conversational story that I often tell, which comes from the book, Coming Home to Your True Self, written by Albert Haase, a Franciscan monk:
During a spiritual direction session, Charlie once told me how he struggled with envy and lust.
“They are still deadly sins, aren’t they?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. “Why do you ask?”
“I’ve committed them time and time again. I keep praying. Unfortunately, my prayer continues to go unanswered.”
“Don’t look for a destination in the spiritual life,” I continued. “If you do, you will constantly be discouraged by your lack of progress. Instead, treat the spiritual life as a process of awareness, as a gradual stepping into the light … Rather than stare the sin in the face and feel guilty, get beneath the sin and see where its roots are. Ask yourself: Why do I get jealous? What is motivating it? What psychological or emotional needs does my sexual activity satisfy me? What does it say about me?”
Charlie came to see his envy as one way of avoiding the painful feeling of not being appreciated, while his lust was an attempt at attracting the attention and apparent affection of others.
In my view, this story is also applicable to our physical wellness. Our illnesses – be they high blood pressure, diabetes, constant migraine, or skin problems – are just symptoms that spring from root causes like lifestyle, stress level, eating habits, judgmental attitude, or pride.
Therefore, instead of berating people for their symptoms (“Why are you sick all the time?” or “Why are you depressed? Just be happy!”), we should be addressing the root causes of the maladies.
Excerpt from book Leaf to Life