The Value of Delayed Gratification

In the motion picture, The Matrix, Mouse tries to play digital pimp to Neo. One line I remember goes like

“To deny our own impulses is to deny the very thing that makes us human.”

Did you catch that when you saw the movie?  I didn’t. I was waiting for more fighting.   Anyway, think about what he said. Is he right?  Actually, he isn’t.

Mouse would only be right in the sense that machines don’t need sexual intercourse or that they don’t have sexual urges. If my ability to be sexually aroused is what makes one human then what about every anmial in the universe?  Sexual instinct, mating, and reproduction go far beyond humanity. It is instinct. It is nature to reproduce (even viruses).

One thing that makes us human is our will. It is free. We can choose to deny our urges. It is called temperance, self-control, willpower, etc. Neo noticed the attractive woman and she distracted him from the Agent. Had they truly been in the Matrix, that distraction would have gotten him killed, and the movie would have been really short.

For some reason, humans are more and more being led to believe that they should follow every impulse, never questioning or denying. In fact, if you deny or question an impulse or someone else’s impulse, you will be labeled in unflattering ways.  Faithful Catholics are typically the targets of such discrimination because Catholics are one of the few groups that still stand for purity and chastity.

Whether it is sex, attention, love, obedience, pleasure, information, or anything really, human beings have the ability to process, assess, and make a decision. We are not made to be ruled by our glands or stimuli.  As Catholic men, we should make a habit of training ourselves to observe, reflect, and make good decisions that will have the best possible good, for others first and then for ourselves.

Think of delayed gratification or even self-denied gratification.  An example. I can delay my burger fix from my allowance in order to save for a nicer lunch later in the month (delayed gratification). I could save my lunch allowance for a month and give it to charity (denied gratification). In both cases I deny myself something for a greater benefit. Which one will have the greater benefit?  How would this benefit me in 10 days, in 10 months, 10 years, or eternity?

Do you see what I am getting at?

As free Catholic men, we can choose to invest our time, affection, and resources in anything or nothing. The best choice is to let God direct our investments, right?  This is not a passive move. We must learn by seeking and listening. Then we must obey. Lastly we must work on our attitude of obedience. Sacrifice costs something, dudes.

Let us start by taking some inventory. Checkbook is an easy start for most Catholic guys. Where is my money going? How much do I spend on myself? On others? How much am I investing in the lives of my wife and kids (time, attention, money, etc) and what do I do for me? Ready for the hard one? Ask your wife and kids. What can I do better? Listen and don’t defend. Do the same with God. If you didnt hear him in the checkbook or from your 5 year old, listen more intently in prayer.

Got some ideas now? Good. Pick one and start. Then add more. Give it up. Watch the change (over time). God is never outdone in generosity. We may not see reward here or now, but He is never outdone. Wait and see.

Stay Catholic, my friends.

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About Tactical Catholic

Catholic husband, dad, and convert to the Catholic Faith. A Catholic layman doing his part to strengthen Catholic men for their vocation.

Posted on May 7, 2014, in Catholic Belief, Catholic Manliness, Personal Witness, Spiritual Warfare and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. A more effective approach to sexual morality would be for the Church to: 1. instruct people to avoid the very serious harm that sex outside of marriage does, and 2. encourage people to embrace the good of married sexuality (lovemaking).

    Alas, the Catholic Church bases its sexual morality within marriage on human reproduction and does not understand what the unitive aspect really is. The sexual love of the spouses is present even when one of the spouses is naturally infertile.

    The commandments call us to freedom from our all too human tendency to engage in self destructive behavior. But, we see through the Church’s history a tendency for it to abuse its authority.

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    • The Church understands and teaches that human sexuality is unitive and procreative. Separating the total self giving aspect is the beginning of the problem. Far too few wish to engage this in teaching or talking. Some even contradict clear teaching to appease itching ears. Love is total self donation. Thanks for your comment. More people need to engage these topics in the public square.

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