The Yellow Brick Road to Nowhere

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We all know (and probably love) the classic tale of The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy escapes Kansas, the place she is not too fond of at the time, only to end up in Oz where all she wants is to get home. When Glinda the Good Witch flies in on her bubble, she tells Dorothy she can get home by following the yellow brick road to the wonderful wizard of Oz. Dorothy, along with her companions she meets along the way, do just that. There, the group is given everything they wanted. All is well and they live happily ever after, right?

Most would say yes. However, I would argue when we look at the story from a different perspective, we find a different ending, and no I am not talking about the ending to Wicked, or the actual meaning of the story being silver standard versus gold standard.

In the story, Dorothy follows the yellow brick road and only the yellow brick road. She knows this is the way to Oz and getting there is all she cares about. Dorothy suffers from a case of destination addiction.

As Robert Holden would state – “Beware of destination addiction – a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is found in the next place, the next job, and with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.”

Did these words hit you as much as they hit me? I hope so. I am guilty of suffering from destination addiction as much as Dorothy did, and as much as the person sitting next to me does as well.

Many people succumb to this idea we always need the next thing. Me personally? I need to live in Virginia. I need to find a way to get myself to D.C. I need to travel the world. Plus, I need a Jeep Wrangler.

But let’s be clear, I don’t need these things, especially the Wrangler. Moving away and new toys won’t make the things I don’t like about my life go away. Leaving things without dealing with them, trying to cut things out of our lives cold turkey, will never take the pain, the confusion, or whatever it is we’re fighting away.

Moving on is fun at first. Change is exciting when it comes on our terms. Yet that’s one of the biggest problems – how often does the change we want truly come on our terms? My answer is definitely not as often as we would like it too.

Being addicted to the idea of success found in the future is arguably one of the most dangerous things we can do in our lives. Beside becoming completely absent to the life we live now, each moment is viewed as a ticket to a future.

I both see and hear this talked about a lot in relationships. You like each other, you begin dating, and eventually you think about marriage, potentially even tying the knot. However, in any stage of the relationship something suddenly feels off. The “spark” that was once there is gone and you don’t know how to get it back. How do you fix it? You start pressing forward for new things thinking it will make your relationship okay again. You wish they would act like this person over here or this “hashtag goals” couple, both of which you stalk on social media. But when this fades and they can’t change to meet your standards, you’re left with what you already had and yet you’re not happy. You are discontent.

I saw this happen to a very dear friend of mine. When everyone was graduating high school and getting ready for college, she was getting married. I liked the guy but their relationship had its issues. They believed marriage would help resolve some problems and make the other problems magically disappear. Sadly, the marriage ended a year later. The problem with my friend was she suffered from a marriage destination addiction. She wanted to be married and nothing more. Since issues and feelings weren’t dealt with, they ultimately went their separate ways.

Destination addiction becomes brutal because we literally suffer from the pursuit of happiness.

On paper we know what we want. Like Dorothy, we head toward that one thing and only that one thing. However, we never truly get there. There is no true ending point. We live in a constant world of angst. We have an ecstasy leading our lives that we don’t know how to satisfy.

Even worse, sometimes we do find what we thought we wanted most, only to find out it’s nothing like we expected. That job we’ve dreamed about for years isn’t fun and exciting but depressing and hard. That town we moved to ends up being just like the town we thought we were escaping from. We find the very thing we wished for only to find out it is nothing at all what we wanted.

Since I was around 13, I’ve had a list of standards I wanted in the guy I date and eventually marry. Believe me, these were beyond specific and I was determined to find this guy. Over time, I let this list go. Then, last July I went to lunch with a guy who, on paper, seemed to match my list scarily well.

Can you imagine how the lunch went? No offense to the guy, but the entire time I knew something was wrong. I was consumed with malaise. I kept telling myself “but he matches the list.” Yet for all those qualities that seemed right, I realized maybe what I thought I wanted isn’t exactly what I want.

After all, my life has gone down a completely different path than I thought it would. I didn’t graduate from Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School. I didn’t go to UT. I’m not getting my graduate degree in History. I won’t work at the Smithsonian for document conservation and the list goes on.

So what do we do when we reach these points? Do you admit you’re wrong to appease the masses? Do you power through because you’re too prideful to quit? Where do we really go from here?

We certainly shouldn’t rush just because we want to reach the next level in life. I did that in college. While I absolutely do not regret anything about my collegiate career, it is undeniable priorities and plans my senior year of college were vastly different than my freshman year. I learned the hard way life is not simply about reaching the end because when the end comes sooner than expected or never comes at all, what are you left with?

Me? I had to completely rebuild my life from the ground up and try to leave my past behind. It was very “The Beautiful and Damned” but I did it. But, I didn’t do it on my own.

Destination addiction literally causes us to live outside the grace of God. We say we know our ending better than our own Creator, yet we find the words in Isaiah “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.'”

I’ve learned over the years that destination addiction is a lack of confidence in the now. We don’t think we can survive the now, so we have to keep moving as quickly as possible. We are harassed by our own insecurity. We seek but we cannot find.

Wanting our job or our spouse to be like something/someone else will never make our problems go away. We will still be left with the feeling of emptiness we are fighting. The root of the problem is not the situation but our own hearts.

We will never be able to find this in any earthly matter for the only way we can truly be known, understood, and loved is through our Heavenly Father. He is the one who will guide us between His will and our desires. Destination addiction focuses solely on the end, i.e., the finish line. However, we are called to live with a purpose and that purpose comes from the Lord.

I’m a huge believer in fighting for what you want. I have caused myself large amounts of emotional pain trying to figure out how to get what I want, yet this is never the way to go. We don’t follow a yellow brick road to have a wizard grant our wishes to us. We follow God’s path for our lives, and while it is not always easy, He is always at every twist and turn along the way.

I leave you with the words of Jesus found in John – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

God is where our happiness is found and nothing else. This is where we fight destination addiction. This is where we find peace.

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