I once paid $5 for cotton candy. Call me ridiculous, but when I walked by the zoo’s vender and saw the sugary, purple fluff balls, I had to have one. I began eating the mountain of sugar (bigger than my head), savoring every bite, but within 10 minutes, the mountain had dwindled to nothing more than a few purple stains on a skinny plastic stick. I felt tricked.
The thing is, cotton candy is really just household sugar given a makeover with food coloring and caramelization (and yes, I did just research that on howstuffworks.com). It’s cheap and empty, yet it’s puffed up to look like a delicious mountain of delight. The same is true for lust.
As a 24-year-old trying to make sense of life, love and relationships, I admit I have baggage. I’ve tried to take things from girls that aren’t mine to have and given things back that aren’t theirs to receive. I’ve always known this isn’t God’s will, but I think I’m finally starting to see why: lust is an empty scam like cotton candy.
On the surface, lust whispers so many promises. Things like…
You will be satisfied by physical intimacy. You will feel loved after a temporary encounter. You will feel connected and whole through another person.
Yet these promises never hold up for more than a few hours, and afterwards we feel more isolated than we did to begin with. The thing is, we were created for deep, lasting relationships. As God said regarding Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone.” We all long to feel united and validated through others, and for this reason lust is so deceitful.
In the words of writer Max Dubinsky, “What lust offers is so close to the truth, it’s so close to the very thing we’ve been built to desperately seek, that it seems like it might be the thing we’ve been looking for all along.” But lust always disappoints, because it’s not based on love. Furthermore, lust divorces our bodies from our souls and creates attachments that quickly rip apart.
Our longings for deep connection are good, but we need to fill these desires with things that last, namely God’s love and the love he brings through lasting community and marriage.
So my challenge to myself and others is this: Stop eating cotton candy. God offers you the fullness of Himself through Jesus and genuine relationships. You don’t have to settle for the emptiness of lust and the stale imitations of true love.
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