If you take time to notice, an industry has sprung up offering substitutes for love.
We singles are the target. These counterfeits prey on our loneliness and desire to belong, but when all is said and done, they'll leave you feeling emptier and lonelier than before.
Of course we should know better. We're intelligent, worldly adults. We should be able to recognize a phony when we see one, and that may be the problem. Deep down, we do know we're being taken, but we continue anyway. What gives?
For some singles, it's desperation.. For others, it's the need to fit in. For all of us, it's a longing to fill that aching void deep inside our heart.
My brother Dave, who was a part-time philosopher, observed that there's big money to be made from people's misery. Whether it's physical suffering, legal problems, or financial woes, professionals who can alleviate that pain earn high salaries. They perform a valuable service, true, but they don't do it cheaply. And, the more serious the trouble, the higher the cost.
At first that seems cynical, but it's a fact of life. We singles need to be aware that as a consumer group, we're the target of businesses who provide substitutes for love.
Take the por/nography industry, a multi-billion dollar moneymaker. It has flooded the Internet, and before that churned out movies, magazines, and other products. While the motivation for participating in this may seem to be sex, the truth is that it's probably loneliness. It's a desire for a loving relationship that has become perverted along the way.
The (mostly) men who engage in viewing this filth try to act cynical and laugh it off, but there's a real, deep sadness there. It's a true reflection of mankind's fallen nature.
There's also a subculture that promotes the entertainment industry. Many of these businesses that train entertainers and models are legitimate, but that industry teems with scams. The dishonest companies capitalize on ambitious young people's need for love and admiration.
Most of us pursue substitutes that are more mundane: power, security, position, wealth, and recognition. If we can't find a spouse, we redirect our energy into our career.
While that provides a sense of accomplishment, which is usually measured with money, still that void remains. This substitute for love is the most deceptive. One day you're the company star, the golden child, then a few years down the road you're the victim of a layoff and told you're no longer needed. All your effort goes up in smoke.
Let's take a breather for a second if this seems too depressing.
Work can be fun; it can even be fulfilling. We owe our employer our best effort. But when we pour our heart and soul into it, we're heading for a fall. If we let our job become our god, someday we'll get sacrificed on that altar, and it won't be pretty.
Enjoy your work, but keep it in perspective. Your boss may think you're great. Don't expect the company to love you as much as you may love it.
There's also shopping, which results in gift lift, but like one-night stands, the effect wears off pretty quickly. While we're aware of biblical warnings against sex outside marriage, none of us can quote a specific passage that says, "Thou shalt not shop." So we think we're okay.
We're often told food is one of the most common substitutes for love. Well, eating, in particular. I suppose you could collect food like some singles buy clothes or whatever, but the real problem is in eating it.
I eat when I'm nervous, I eat when I'm sad. Often I eat when I'm lonely. While I am a naturally thin guy, I have gained some weight lately, and I'll admit when I'm doing all this "substitute" eating, I'm not cramming health food into my piehole. That's one of the reasons I take medicine for high cholesterol.
Whether the theory that eating substitutes for love is valid, I don't know. I do know that a lot of lonely people eat a lot. Maybe it even starts a vicious cycle, eat because you're lonely, gain weight, eat, become overweight...and on and on.
Eating is satisfying. It's fun. For the most part, it's socially acceptable, unlike boozing or smoking or doing drugs. It becomes socially unacceptable when you become overweight, however. It's unfair, I agree, but reality often is. It also increases your health risks.
Diets are like fads in America. A new one comes out every three months. Some diets work, some don't.
As you may have noticed on this site, I'm a big believer in getting professional help when necessary. Your doctor is your first resource. If he or she can't help you, they can direct you to someone who can.
You, of course, have to see that your substitutes for love aren't working. Oh, they may bring some temporary or shallow relief, but they are, after all, substitutes. What you want is the real thing.
I've found, through years of searching, that the lifelong cure, the deeply satisfying cure, is an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. You may reject that, you may run from it, but that's what I've found.
I don't have any ulterior motives on this site. Except for my ebooks, all the information here is free. I'm not making a buck by telling you that you need Jesus. I'm not asking for donations. I just want you to be as happy as I am.
As you read the Bible and get to know Jesus, you'll discover love, true love, not a substitute. This is the real thing. It's deep and fulfilling. Satisfying. Constant, and eternal.
When you experience Jesus' love, those substitutes for love get tacky in comparison. You'll see them for what they are. Eventually you'll lose interest in them. You'll still experience loneliness from time to time, but you'll know where to go when you do.
An old magazine advertisement used to say, "Don't settle for substitutes!" When it comes to love, that's wise advice.