September 14, 2012
I’ve always loved sports, especially when I was a kid. Sports really were always available to me, never failing, easily engaged, and my most loyal and consistent companion growing up. Actually, sports were my best friend and main comforter. In fact, almost everything I did revolved around sports and they rarely let me down.
When I wasn’t feeling connected, heard, or taken seriously, or I needed to feel important, I would go up to my room and re-create pro basketball games in my bedroom. It was one of my favorite activities. A rolled up pair of socks made a great ball, and a hanging lamp played the basket. I was an awesome shot, and in my fantasy game, I always won. My fantasy helped soothe and distract my mind from the day’s hurt, allowing me to escape to a place where I was important, valued, and most importantly, in control … and life was enjoyable.
When we feel misunderstood, devalued, or simply overlooked, we turn to things that we believe will make us feel better: exercise, gardening, knitting, cooking, a business deal, or a work project. More harmful options include eating, gossiping, shopping, sex, alcohol, drugs, TV, and pornography. The list is endless. If it is something we can think about, do, or feel, it can be something we turn to for soothing.
However, after a mild blip of satisfaction, none of these things really makes us feel better in the long run. None of these idolatrous substitutes satisfies the thirst for what we truly desire: God’s compassionate, unfailing forgiveness, acceptance, and love. In fact, the substitutes actually take us farther away from what God offers us. Satan offers many empty substitutes, but only God offers real and lasting forgiveness, acceptance, and love.
You can change your patterns if you are getting sucked in to choosing Satan’s cheap imitations. But you have to be intentional and strategic. We never accomplish anything good without some strategy and intentionality, so don’t think you can randomly live life and expect progress to happen. Is that a trap you fall in?
Today, identify where you turn for soothing and comfort. Recognize your pattern and strategy. Is it self-protective or self-destructive? When you are feeling misunderstood, overlooked, hungry and thirsty for satisfaction, remember this: God is the Lover of your soul. He understands you perfectly and loves you eternally. Reach out to Him in prayer and in His Word, and then listen. Cease striving and know that He is God! Take one promise of His and act like you believe it. It will transform your life. God or a cheap substitute, it’s your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, I am so thankful that it is my soul that You love, and not my appearance or performance. I am often dissatisfied with both of these … especially when I make them my focus. There are so many empty substitutes in this world, so many things to turn to when I want to feel better about myself, or to provide a distraction so I don’t have to think about why I am hurting. Father, help me experience Your unconditional love more fully. Help me relax in Your loving presence and always turn my focus to You. I know that You created me to know You, love You, and make You the center of my life. I pray with hope in the name of my best friend, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted amongst the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10
“Though the mountains may be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed” say the Lord who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10