Some people love drugs. Others allow alcohol to replace the blood in their veins. Sex is surely toward the top of the list of things that people will do almost anything to engage in. People can become addicted to just about anything and, like most addicts, I wasn’t aware I had become one until I was desperately and carelessly chasing my high. I had become addicted, not to chemicals or lust-filled activities, but to being interesting. Having people, family members or strangers, love me was my cocaine on the counter, my Vodka hidden in the freezer. And I would do just about anything that would make me stand out, appear unique, so the faceless crowds would clap for me and I could get drunk on their adoration.
All addictions are tragedy onramps to almost certain disaster. My addiction to being interesting drew blood from my already dehydrated spirit and left me hopelessly bored with myself. The lower I viewed myself, the more I looked for other people to tell me I was great and interesting. I got so high off people’s response to my clever life. Being able to tell a good story was my drug, and it barely fed a part of me that was constantly starving. So I was always looking for the next thing that might set me apart from everyone else.
I suppose many people enjoy offering a punch line or sharing a story, but I recklessly chased dangerous moments so that I could always have the best story in the room. I moved about the world with actions that screamed “I NEED ALL OF YOU TO LOVE ME, please Lord let them love me”. I did this without ever considering the damage I was creating, the people I was hurting, the wife and child I was ignoring. I put my life at risk, my family’s future at risk, I abandoned whatever wisdom had ever been offered to me, and made destructive decisions, simply so I would have another anecdote.
The highest priority in my life was this desire and this was a huge problem. My life was completely based around what I thought others wanted or needed me to be. This lead me to forfeit any life that I may have wanted for myself. I was living solely for them, for some unidentified group of people that I had foolishly given myself to and asked if they could give me back an identity. When I thought people might want reckless, I’d run toward a moving train and jump off the tracks right before impact, literally. When I thought they wanted adventure, I convinced my wife to sell our house, quit our wonderful jobs and drive around the country with me while I attempted to be a stand-up comedian. Occasionally life effortlessly handed me amazing moments, but I would take those experiences and exploit them, twist the beauty out of them so I could billboard some part of me that I wanted people to fall in love with.
I did this for decades, and I am trying to set aside my destructive need of receiving praise from others. It’s hard to genuinely give that up and believe that I have value and worth regardless of the arbitrary opinion of others. I have learned that unless I can set aside my desire for valueless validation, I will never truly know what I like, who I am, what I enjoy, and what brings me peace. I need to learn to be me, whether or not it makes me interesting to others. Even as I write these words I am worried about if they are good enough, if anyone will be compelled by them. How great it would be to be free from considering your thought of me while trying to move beyond my struggle.
One of the hardest parts of God for me to wrap my brain and heart around, is that He loves me just because. Not because of how great I am at telling stories, or how much I have done, or how interesting I am able to appear, but just because He is a father that adores His kids. I struggle to comprehend where His love for all of us comes from. Part of the joy we feel in God’s embrace is that we don’t need to understand it. We need only to know that it is there, and let the reality of this love be the constant reminder that we are worth loving. No matter how other people view us, no matter how well a blog post is received or rejected, God sees us, knows us and adores us. To me, that is divinely interesting.
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