Confession: While I deeply want to be loved for who I am (and fear that I might not be), I will settle for admiration. It feels like love. But that’s like eating a hot dog, when what I need is rich soul food.
It’s easier, feeding off admiration. It’s more accessible, more within my control, to seek out the praise of others, then it is to lay myself bare before them and hope I am enough in myself. I can pour my energy into dazzling others with my gifts and tell myself I’m satiated while my true hunger lies under the surface, unmet.
We all have our hot dogs.
Our hot dogs are those easy, cheap, artificial substitutes for what our hearts deeply crave. They are the worldly foods we eat that we hope will bring us life. They are what we settle for eating because we don’t believe our true needs will be satisfied.
We all settle for something lesser to satisfy our souls. We want to be wanted, but we settle for being needed. We want relationship, but we settle for false peace, based on a fear of confrontation. We want intimacy, but we settle for staying in control, hiding our weaknesses where they cannot be touched. We want to be our true selves, but we’re terrified people will reject it. We try to feed ourselves on competence, reputation, usefulness, perfectionism, security, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, busy schedules and so much more.
A few years ago, the taste of success began to sour for me. Oh don’t get me wrong-I will always love the feeling that I have accomplished something. I will never fail to appreciate admiration. But it occurred to me that I could feed off success all day long and twice on Sunday and never satisfy the deep hunger of my soul to be known and loved for who I am. That is a desire for which admiration is a pale substitute.
It felt like I woke up one day and realized I have been feeding myself bread made from sawdust. Worse than a hot dog. That is the act of a person who is starving and must feed herself any way she can. It is the act of a person who doesn’t believe there is manna for her to eat instead.
God in his mercy keeps showing me ways I am trying to find life and love where it is not meant to be found. He keeps drawing my eyes back to Him and His provisions. He loves me too much to let me go hungry.
He’s been calling me to drop the hot dogs, telling me to stop trying to feed myself something that isn’t going to satisfy. (We can have a pretty tight grip on our hot dogs. Sometimes He has to outright smack them out of our hands. Word to the wise-just let go. It’s easier).
Instead of our hot dogs, God is offering us a feast.
When we stop scrambling to feed ourselves we see how He is providing rich food all around us. We see the manna of His presence, peace, joy and love in all the ordinary moments He gives us throughout the day. He is constantly trying to feed us.
As I step back from seeking admiration, the deeper hunger of my heart has come to the surface. I am learning to own the hunger, to feel it more deeply rather than ignore it. I hear His invitation to the feast and am discovering that the call to feast on Him alone is more satisfying than anything I could feed myself.
Don’t believe the lie that the hot dog is the best you’ll get, that it’s what you need, or that what He offers isn’t better. Ask Him to show you what you are settling for, how you are trying to feed yourself. What you are searching for is found best in Him. He is the source of love, the bread of life. Be satisfied in Him.