I sometimes feel a panicky desperation in my heart whenever I’m with people I care about. It’s not because I dislike being with friends or claustrophobic; on the contrary, I want those moments to last forever, and I feel this rising tightness that whispers intensely to me: “Lock this in! Take in everything! Analyze every color and shape and emotion in this scene! Because it won’t happen again!”
I have an eternal Rolodex of those. Today, I added several scenes to the picture diary in my head. Watching the sunrise with some floor sisters this early morning, sitting quietly in the plaza as campus woke up, and skating at an 80s-style roller rink are some of those precious images. They are broken down into bits and pieces — it’s not like I can vividly remember each and every fleeting thought — but I value them. Sometimes it’s hard to move into the future because I find myself doubting that I could ever experience such things again. This leads me to do and say foolish things in an effort to retain the moment.
I wish that I could take all the people I love and keep them with me in my pocket, pulling them out when I needed them. I wish that times didn’t have to change, that we didn’t ever have to part ways for any reason.
Some of this is good. We are made for relationships, after all. But some of this has sketchy roots. Sure, my joy and excitement spurts up when I’m around people at an event or whatever, but seeking satisfaction and purpose in others, subconsciously or otherwise?
Jesus is present within my dearest friends by the amazing indwelling of the Spirit. However, my friends are not him. God is God.
Sometimes I feel like a liar because my soul doesn’t always thirst for God or seek him. At times I pray for the Lord to make the words of the Psalms true for me: that I may hunger for him, find refuge in him, and declare him to be my only. More often that not, I find myself lusting after the presence and attention of friends rather than time with my Father.
This is sin. Although it is hardly wrong to seek the company of others and to have a memorable experiences together as Christians, extroversion can easily morph into idolatry. A craving for people simply to fill our emotional needs is selfish, arrogant, and abusive.
When we do such things, we disregard who they are and what God is doing in their lives for the sake of our own social thermometer.
I have been there. I fear sliding back at times. I don’t want to live my life in the complete opposite of Philippians 2:3-5:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…”
We neglect to pray regarding our personalities; “typing” ourselves and others is a big trendy thing to do, but there are some parts of our lives we accept without realizing that they may be rooted in sin. Sam the Old Roommate once encouraged me to seek God specifically about this. It’s been a long road that has led me here to stop, think, and pray.
I again seek forgiveness, but also discernment and wisdom from God above to help me see. Spirit, work humility in me. I know I am redeemed, and I am eternally grateful, but sometimes this paradox of dead/alive is tiring.