My friend once said to me: “I don’t know what Christians mean when they say that life without God at the centre feels empty. I don’t feel empty at all. I feel completely satisfied with my life, my goals and ambitions. I choose my life, and I like it. I just don’t get the whole emptiness thing.”
I’m not sure I do either.
We’re all filling our lives with things we believe to be satisfying, whether it’s our partner, hobby, work or kids. Whether or not we acknowledge God in the midst of these, we’re involved in them because we value them. We see these people or endeavours as important, even if they give us grief sometimes. If we value them enough, we contine to throw our hearts into them. If they produce pain, we might abandon them, or self-medicate to cushion the impact they have. And then maybe the ‘medication’ becomes more important to us, and so on, until we come back around to where we started. Or not…
So I agree – the issue is not so much emptiness. It’s what we choose to fill ourselves and our lives with. To make a priority. And whether those things – in and of themselves – really satisfy us. Deep down.
I was contemplating recently why I felt so angry. One afternoon I felt this overwhelming frustration brewing, and fearing I’d say something regrettable, I left the kids with my husband so I could take a walk.
I’d spent the whole day devising ways to blame other people for the way I felt. But it didn’t help.
So I walked, and chose – reluctantly – to open my heart to God.
As I let the emotions swirl around, I realised my anger went quite a lot deeper than something someone said or did. It was anger that originated in hidden-away memories, dreams and desires. You know when you just hit on something – a need – that simply appears to have eluded you?
Did I feel empty? Anything but. I was filled with rage. But could I make room for love as well? For God’s love?
I realised again that his was a kind of sacrificial love that took his son to the cross to pay for everything. A redemptive love that, on one fine day, set this emotional captive free. Powerful love that broke through, again and again, all the chains I’d strapped around myself. A purposeful love that filled my life with meaning.
A radical, generous love that, when truly felt – truly believed – effortlessly overflowed to others.
My anger, though important to explore, was preventing me from receiving a vital stream of life.
What a relief when I could finally say that He was enough. I could hand it all over to Him. He understood. He cared. He offered closeness and comfort and strength – just when I needed it most.
“I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord – now, and always.”
(Psalm 131:1-3 NLT)