Pacifiers are often used to satisfy babies’ natural sucking reflex, and to soothe and calm them. Imagine a baby crying because he or she is hungry, and instead of getting some sort of food, the baby is only offered a pacifier. In that case, the thing that once soothed and calmed the baby is now being put in a position to fulfill a roll that it doesn’t have the capacity to fulfill.
Just like physical pacifiers for babies, there are some habits, relationships, and behaviors that act as pacifiers in our lives, not being intrinsically bad, but sometimes used to fulfill a purpose that they cannot. Too often, in hopes of gaining the sense of being soothed, or in pursuit of satisfying a natural reflex, we settle for things in life that cannot actually meet our needs.
Even when pacifiers are used with babies, sometimes, the dependency on them becomes problematic when the child is too old to continue using it. Similarly, there are some things that might have been good for us in a previous season in life that we continue to rely on, resulting in us sustaining spiritual, emotional, mental, financial, and physical hungers that go unfilled.
In Luke 9, Jesus depicts a series of individuals who want to follow him, but the third individual Jesus references wants to tell his family goodbye before he follows Jesus, and Jesus says that “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus’ reply to the man is a warning about life: Jesus feeds. Everything and everyone else simply pacify.
Jesus says “I am the bread of life” and “I am the living water”. “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty...” (Luke 6). The filling and satiation that Jesus can give to the soul cannot be substituted.
Here’s a word of encouragement to you: Don’t substitute fullness for a feeling. A part of maturing in life is being willing to face the reality about something you enjoy; whether it actually satisfies a need, or simply pacifies a preference.