In math, “the substitution method is used to eliminate one of the variables by replacement when solving a system of equations.” Basically, you replace an unlike variable for a similar variable in order to solve the problem. You hope that if the substitution is equivalent that you’ll get the answer you need.
In life its often the same. People substitute pursuit of a career for time with family. They substitute alcohol for happiness. They substitute sex for love. Every time they hope that the substitute contains enough of the characteristics of what they really want that the substitute will fill the need. It rarely does. But it doesn’t keep them from trying.
We do it in relationships too. We pass the time with Mr or Mrs. Right Now, instead of waiting for the Right One. We use people for the companionship that they provide even if the future of the relationship is untenable. We try to convince ourselves that what we’re doing is o.k., knowing the whole time that we settling for something that’s less than what we’re made for. In human relationships and in our relationship with God, we accept the inferior because we’re scared of the power of the perfect. We try to eliminate our real need by substituting something of like qualities. We do it to solve our problems, seldom realizing that we’re creating new ones.
Humans are made for realness not for forgery. We’re wired for the genuine, destined for what’s true. Substitution is a poor excuse and an unhealthy proposition. The only way to really solve the equation is to know what we’re missing in the first place.