Do you ever have one of those thoughts– You know, the irrational kind that you know is irrational, and yet you prescribe to it as though it is a provable truth? Maybe you have (you probably have) and lately, those seem to be most of the thoughts circulating in my brain.
The thing is they’re less “thoughts” and more “thinly veiled truths” (read: lies). I say thinly veiled truths because sometimes the action the thought produces works, so it feels true. Listening and obeying doesn’t work for long. That works for moments– Sometimes the most fleeting moments, sometimes for day and months. But, surely as every time before, it fades. The thought from before fades, transforming almost magically and instantly into another:
I’ll feel better if I have a better job. I’ll feel better once I start making better grades. I’ll feel better once I lose weight. I’ll feel better when I have new clothes. I’ll feel better when I change my hair up a little. I’ll feel better if I treat myself to something expensive I want. I’ll feel better if I eat this donut (I promise I will). I’ll feel better if I take a vacation. I’ll feel better if I’m in a relationship. I’ll feel better if I use this face mask. I’ll feel better if I have more money. I’ll feel better if I have a newer car. I’ll feel better if I… I’ll just feel better, okay?
Typing that out, seeing it in front of me, feels so empty, shallow, and bare of any depth. Yet, these thoughts come (and often, they do not go) feeling so heavy and real that I chase them. I listen to them like they’re direct commands… Pushing me, urging me to a “better state of being”. As if using a face mask, having a boyfriend, or losing ten pounds is the key that’s been holding me back from the full potential of my life.
Sometimes, I don’t really even need to feel that much better. I’ve spoken those lies to myself when I have been in great places in my life. But discontentment rattles me and I think that there must be a “better” that I can feel. I reach for it, strive for it, and obtain whatever the goal is nearly every single time.
But I never feel better. I haven’t felt better once.
The thing is, I know what the answer is… You know what the answer is. I hear it, I tell it to myself and I fight it because it’s too hard. It can’t be right. Feeling better is infinitely easier when you seek to do it by buying another pair of shoes, eating another donut, or even getting a newer iPhone than it is to obtain what I know the answer is.
“There is a God-shaped hole in the human heart that only God can fill.”
That’s so much harder.
I wish that I could pontificate on this subject and suggest that in any small way I have cracked this way of thinking so that it no longer entraps me. I haven’t.
It hurts to have failed like that. I haven’t. I have chased so many earthly things, and I never felt better. What’s worse is, I’ll probably chase again knowing full well that I won’t feel better.
Perhaps there isn’t a hard and fast point to be writing this: I have nothing to teach anyone reading this and so very little wisdom to bestow. But the magic of writing and putting something out there is that hope that somebody, somewhere feels the same way too so that you aren’t alone. And maybe, ironically, I’m hoping to make myself feel better about this failing of my heart that I have by writing this.
But I won’t feel better. I won’t feel better until I understand, wholly, that God belongs in the slot where I’m trying to put all of my earthly goals. And that– Well, that… Will actually make me feel better.
To be honest, even recognizing it feels just a little better than before, anyway.