Growing up I always felt out of place. I never felt like I blended in, especially in my family. No matter how I tried I just couldn’t think or care about things the way they did. I spent a lot of my life trying to walk in their shoes and be who I thought they wanted me to be. Which, most of the time led to disappointment. But, when I got to fifth grade a met a kid named Richard who became the best friend I could have ever asked for. He was loyal and honest. More importantly, he let me be who I was then. I didn’t have to work so hard to fit in with him. I didn’t have to be insecure about what I liked around him. For the first time I felt like me, and in my head Richard was my real family. I traded my birthed relationships for this external one because for a while I felt accepted. But, at the end of each day it wasn’t him that I wanted to be accepted by. I wanted my family to embrace me the way he did. I wanted them to care about what I cared about. I wanted them to know that without meaning to they hurt me. That’s why I substituted my friendship over my family.
We all do this. We substitute something we like for something we love because we get hurt. Whenever we feel pain or get lonely we find something to cover that pain as fast as we can and we put everything into it. We do it to mask the ache that eats away at us without anyone having the slightest clue. The truth is, we are all too proud to ever be truly vulnerable. Vulnerability is a flaw in today’s standard. By any cost we have to avoid looking weak. So, when we find ourselves facing loss we find the first thing that can make the pain go away, even if just for a little while, and hold on to it, all the while knowing that the relief we are feeling is temporary. We allow ourselves to believe that something new is going to help us heal, but the truth is that it isn’t. All we are doing is distracting ourselves from the pain and not dealing with it. You can cut down a tree, but if you leave the roots it will always grow back. We have all been hurt by something and to deal with that pain we flee. Some people run to something, others run to someone, some people just run.
Everyone deals with pain in different ways. But, the most common way is the investment into something new right away. There is this idea that something new is exactly what we need. We all want the fresh start to begin something different, something functional. That’s why we cycle through new circles of friends our whole lives. We want the feeling of excitement again especially when we’re hurting. When break ups happen the most common trend is to rebound. Find someone new, not because they are better than the last person, but simply because they are someone different. A lot of people change their whole lifestyles in search of this idea of new. Some people find a new passion, or a new focus on their career. And, though new might be great maybe the type of new you’re looking for isn’t what you expect.
When my girlfriend left me I ran to God. Logically I couldn’t think of anywhere else to run. It was the only thing that made sense. I would run to God and He would make it better. But, when He failed to comfort me as quickly as I needed Him to I ran to friends. I needed the pain to go away as fast as it could. I spent all my free time hanging out. I met new friends, and started new relationships with these really great people. Every night I would meet up with them and for a while it seemed to help. But, once the excitement the company of these people brought died down I was back to hurting. It was a temporary fix to mask my loneliness. No matter how amazing they were they couldn’t fill the void. After some time of sorting through my emotional mess I found my new. Ironically, my new was my old. I picked up my relationship with God and I started again. I dedicated everything to Him all over, even the parts that I was unwilling to give before. The new I needed wasn’t something entirely different. It was approaching something old in a new way. I turned to God for a fresh start. If there is anything I have learned in my life is that God allows do-overs. (Something I am so grateful for.) I turned to God not to bring me to something new, but to genuinely make me new. So that when I cross paths with the old things in my life they’ll be made new through the change God made in me. We all want new things. That’s a fact of life. The human race is an unsatisfied species. But, what we have to learn is that bringing an old us into a new situation elicits painful repetition. Some people need to look at their lives and ask themselves that if just because something has hurt you are you going to walk away from it without first giving God a chance to change the situation through a new you? Some of us have been hurt repeatedly and getting away to start fresh seems like the only viable option, and for some that may be true. But, when months go by and that pain is still there in the midst of your new life and new relationships and that haunting feeling of uncertainty creeps in, I believe it’s because deep down you know there was still one new way you didn’t try to make it work. If you ask the any of the older people in your life what they regret you will often find that it wasn’t the things they did they want to take back. It is always the things they didn’t do. The things they didn’t fight for. The relationships they gave up on. The opportunities they missed. Most people regret not giving God a chance to something amazing in their life. Don’t forfeit the opportunity to see miracles in your own lives. If you’re going to substitute anything substitute your fear and doubt for courage and strength in God.