The Next Best Thing

If the next thing is not Jesus it will leave you empty – Carl Lentz

Looking for the Next Best Thing
©Jason Ortego 2015

I remember a time where I would obsess over music. I listened to music all the time. I would research past hits, historical mp3’s and classic songs and listen to anything I could while I was living life. I would spend my time this way as a teenager every day until I had an epiphany.

I wouldn’t do much as a teenager except go to school and later eat dinner, relax and then go to bed. It’d get to a point where I wouldn’t know what to listen to anymore or would skip through my Zune playlist (that’s how long ago it was) and would not find anything worth listening to anymore.

I kind of got over music and then switched over to television and anime. Anime was something that I got into accidentally. I would stay up with my brother and watch Cartoon Network until anime shows came up and that’s where I first got into anime. This mostly happened during the summer. I watched so many series and fell in love with the artwork, the Japanese culture and I even began acting like these characters.

I remember I would act with exaggerated emotions. If I was angry I would be dramatically angry. I loved it. This became my identity. I loved anime.

After I got into anime, I moved on a bit and got interested in the Japanese culture. To this day, I feel called to learn as much as I can about Japan but I noticed a pattern in my life that I knew was getting dangerous.

I still loved music, anime and Japan but I realized I kept moving on to the next best thing. After Japan, I got more interested in boys and exercise. I then got into work and social media.

It just kept going. There was always something to get into. Anything you get into becomes a part of you. Just now I finished listening to some My Chemical Romance and am now watching NHK World TV news on my phone. It’s still a part of me 10 years later.

I can view anything I want to and listen to anything I want, and it never ends. It’s almost scary to know that in a year I’m going to like another band and possibly go to Japan for the first time in my life all because of decisions I made when I was younger.

In the middle of all these new things I was becoming more involved in, I also was learning more about Jesus. 

Jesus was a new thing for me as a teenager. I remember I read the whole Bible at one point, but then I moved on and let Christianity go. When I did I moved on and got back into music, anime, and all the other new and fun things in my life but at night, they all left me empty.

Before I began to seek God, it didn’t matter how I spent my time. I felt empty but I didn’t know why. After I heard God’s voice for the first time, all those other things weren’t important anymore.

I remember I would lay in bed and still pray to God. It was the most constant thing I did. I remember getting bored with everything that I would come to a point where I felt like I had to pray. I felt that it was the only thing that made me feel better.

I remember that my prayers at night alone made me want to figure out who Jesus is and if God was real or not.

I made friends that attended a youth group. I was invited to go and what I loved was I was able to ask anything I wanted to the pastor and he wouldn’t have answers to some of my questions. I remember he had asked us if we prayed to God? Of course, I did pray every night since I was young. It was a habit. I could not sleep until I prayed. Today, until I pray to God, I cannot sleep.

I will not sleep without prayer. Whether the prayer was one I always repeated or one that was sincere until it came out of me I was up.

Going back, the pastor then asked us what we prayed about. When it was my turn to answer I replied that I asked God for a good night’s rest and for my safety and to live another day.

He countered and asked, “Are you alive today?”

In that moment, it hit me that I was alive. Growing up I was paranoid and did not believe I was going to live to make it to highschool. My pastor reminded me that I was alive. But what I got out of it was that I was indeed being kept alive by God but why? It had to be for a giant purpose. I reasoned, “Why am I alive? I should be dead by now. What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Why is God keeping me alive?”

At 16, this was the biggest revelation of my life at the time and I had to know more about this God that kept me alive and His son Jesus. I’m not going to get into how I got saved but I will reveal that everything that I did get into when I was younger began to have less importance to me.

It was weird, but I remember that I stopped listening to music that got me depressed or anime that changed my personality.

I was fulfilled by Jesus and didn’t need to find more music to listen to, more anime to watch, more video games, more friends, more men, more love.

I had everything I needed in one man, Jesus.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t watch anime, learn about Japan or hang out on social media. I do, and I love it but it’s not my reason to spend time on that stuff anymore. I watch anime to learn more about Japan, I listen to music to be more relatable to youth. I want to reach these people. I’m free to not have to keep searching for something to fulfill my heart. To satisfy my schedule or fill my time.

I am happy I’m free to not have to keep searching for something to fulfill my heart. To satisfy my schedule or fill my time anymore.

As long as you live you will keep searching for something to make you feel better. Something to fill the void in your heart. I did and I’m not trying to convert you but I want to share that not even my husband who I dated at the time filled the empty space in my spirit.

Only Jesus did. He was enough and I was finally able to relax in Him.

This revelation has changed my life forevermore and even though I listen to Japanese rock and watch Japanese news while Tweeting online I still find myself searching to know God more.

If at night, I’ve done everything on my checklist except talk to God and ask Him what I need to do today I feel like I lost something special. I lost an opportunity to do something better.

My lifestyle is different today and I love it. I am fulfilled and at peace and I can only give credit to my peace to Jesus.


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