I was struck by a line in a book I’ve been reading:
“It was so bitter and sad, looking for safety in the person least likely to give it to you. Like drinking salt water” J. Courtney Sullivan, Maine
Bitter and sad, yes. So why do we do it?
I believe we all look to satiate ourselves in things, people and places that ultimately can’t deliver. Sometimes they actually do damage.
We may be looking for safety, comfort, love, satisfaction or fulfillment and turn to food, cigarettes or alcohol; shopping, partying or exercise; perfectionism, working or people pleasing.
All of which may bring temporary relief or distraction, but soon the tap runs dry and we’re empty yet again. Sometimes even bone dry.
So why do we do it? Can’t we learn our lesson?
A few reasons came to mind – using the comparison of being thirsty on a deserted island. What would make us drink the ocean water we know will not quench?
*It’s ubiquitous. The water is everywhere and easily accessible. It looks appealing, tantalizing even. (If this weren’t a deserted island, sexy advertising would bombard you with false promises of drinking it.) It’s tempting.
*We get desperate. Our thirst becomes so powerful that we cannot take the pain any longer and prefer to wet our mouths just a little – just to relieve the pain. Perhaps if we had friends around to talk us out of it we could resist such a strong compulsion. But we are alone. Isolated.
*It’s easy. It takes work to look for water and climb trees for coconuts. We’re tired. We’re weak. The ocean is a crawl away. It takes energy and work to gather supplies to build rain catchers. Oh, and hope.
*We lose hope. If we do not believe we will be rescued, that rain will come or that there is an end in sight…our spirits grow dim. We lose the ability to try and do right for ourselves.
Knowing the reasons helps us to avoid falling for them. We can stay out of malls or avoid bars, we can decide to suck it up and work, not take the easy way out, avoid isolation, see through the false promise and find a way to build our hope.
- What is the thirst and the salt water in your life?
- Do any of these reasons resonate for you as to why you keep going back?
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35