Have you ever heard of destination syndrome, otherwise known as destination addiction, or destination happiness?
For those of you that haven't, I decided to do a little research about it. The things I came across described this phenomenon as people believing that success or happiness is in a destination. These people become addicted to the idea that happiness, success, fulfillment, and even heaven are in the future. As a result they treat the present moment as a one way ticket to something better, and fall victim to not living fully present in their lives. Unable to find joy in the moment.
I can't speak for whoever is reading this but this research hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. At first I tried to deny it, but it was because I was scared to admit that I have been suffering from this "syndrome" a lot in the past year. I was scared to admit it to myself, let alone open up about it to all of you.
A few years ago, before I became a Christian I began practicing mindfulness and meditation. This was the first time I started feeling like I was truly living in the moment. My mind wasn't clouded with anxious thoughts of the past or future, I was simply able to be. I was content, and I began craving that feeling more and more. Unfortunately mindfulness and mediation doesn't save you from experiencing hard things in the present moment. And when those hard things came along I inevitably resorted back to my old thinking patterns. Instead of truly moving through what I was facing I fast forwarded it in my mind, or dreamed about going back to something much simpler. Something about this coping mechanism I had come to know and love wasn't able to pull me through the trials of today. Something was missing.
Looking back now I am able to clearly see that this "something" I was missing was hope.
This "something" was Jesus.
Now I mentioned earlier that this destination syndrome has really been rocking me this past year. In the spirit of transparency, I want to be a real as possible with you. Some of the battles I've been facing have made me forget about that hope I just spoke of. And when I forget my mind begins to wander again, to resort back to my old coping mechanisms. To live in a place that doesn't serve be today, but truly robs me of the joy Jesus promises us in the present.
Yes I'm a Christian, I truly know and wholeheartedly believe the hope I've been given. But I am also a broken human, and being saved isn't a one shot solution to the temptations, and natural human tendencies we all face. Being a Christian is about becoming. Slowly becoming who I was made to be with Christ by my side.
If you've read my previous post, I spoke about my recent job change, and how big this decision was for me. I was facing a lot of anxiety in my previous job, and some days I lived in that place so deeply I couldn't see or feel His hope. My spirit held on, while my mind and body wreaked havoc within my day to day world. Since leaving that space I've felt a shift in my mind, body, and spirit. And God's hope has become very present and more tangible for me than it has been for a long time. It's pretty amazing to me what the spirit can do when our human tendencies begin to run wild. In connection with mine, His Holy spirit brought me back to a place of trust and contentment.
So you might be wondering now why I'm writing this if I've come out the other side of my issues? But maybe you forgot the part where I mentioned the idea of becoming. In the past few weeks I've lived so free in the moment that I forgot about the inevitable trials of today. And sure enough those trials haven't gone away. No, they have just taken on a new form. I think that may be how the enemy tries to steal us away from the hope we've been given. Just when the clouds begin to clear, hardship morphs itself into something new. A new challenge we weren't anticipating smacks us straight in the face and we scramble to find the horizon on the other side of the storm.
In these moments I have begun living in a familiar old place, wishing I could go back, while simultaneously searching for the next best thing. I can feel myself getting sucked into a state of destination happiness, and have felt moments slip right past me because I was too scared to fully lean into today. To face the battles head on, and as Anna from Frozen would say "do the next right thing." I think she may be on to something.
I believe that is exactly what hope is. Hope allows us to see the beauty within every storm and reassures us that we aren't alone in our suffering. Hope reminds us that the battle has already been won and screams His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). Hope gives us the courage to do the next right thing, despite the challenges we are facing. And hope opens our heart to feel gratitude towards every planned moment. When we remain grateful, we won't get lost in the longing anymore.
I am praying I won't get lost in that old familiar place but I also have hope that Jesus will carry me through when I do begin to slip. I am not naive to today's struggles, and I don't want to run from them anymore. I am becoming.
If this resonates with you, please know you're not alone. We are still human, but our happiness, our true fulfillment will never arrive if we continue to search for it outside of today. Today is a gift when we're open to receive it. And tomorrow? Well tomorrow can worry about itself (Matthew 6:34).
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23