My God-Shaped Hole
They say that all human beings have a God-shaped hole in their lives. That we all are born with this innate sense that there is more to this life than the mundane routine of everyday life, that there is something bigger outside ourselves.
They say we starve for it. We desire it, even though we don’t really know what it is we’re longing for or waiting for. There is this elusive restlessness that sits in the underbelly of our being that is never satisfied, never allows us to feel at peace.
They say that there is only one Way that will fulfill that longing and satisfy that deep desire. They say that Way is found in the personhood of Jesus, in saying a prayer of repentance and submitting your life to the Lord.
That’s what they say.
I prayed that prayer when I was five years old. I don’t remember it, but I remember that my father walked me through it. I grew up raised in a Christian home, attending church nearly every single Sunday of my life, and doing all the kids’ programs when I was a child and all the youth programs when I was a teenager.
But that’s not all. I grew up with parents who valued authentic relationship with Jesus, who taught me and my siblings that this Christian life consists of so much more than what goes on beneath a steeple. We prayed as a family often, and we had Bible studies together. I would talk about God with my mom all the time, and I would argue about (okay, sometimes fruitfully discuss) God with my dad less than all the time. My parents are conservative, but not tight-fisted; they let us grow and mature on our own, teaching us but not holding it against us when we ventured outside the umbrella of what they believe is right.
Despite that upbringing, despite being raised to seek after God in every part of my life, I’ve never felt that fulfillment that Christians say only Christ can bring. When I am unflinchingly honest, I imagine that I feel as much doubt and angst and general yearning for more in life that the most die-hard atheist might feel.
Yet I believe in the miracle of the incarnation with all my heart. I claim Jesus as Lord, I claim the Bible as the Word God gave us to reveal Himself to us (even if I view scripture in a different way than most most conservative Christians). Shouldn’t that mean the God-shaped hole in my heart has been infused with the Holy Spirit?
I no longer think so. I don’t think that “hole” ever really goes away. I have moments of joy and peace, but they are always fleeting, always temporary. I think this Christian life is more like a series of hills and valleys, ebbs and flows, moments when God’s presence feels as near as your own breath, and other times when the most honest thought you can conjure is one of doubt and wondering, “Is there anything at all beyond this tangible life I can see?”
But I think that longing exists so we are drawn outside ourselves, driven to seek more, strive more, reach beyond our mundane existence for the hand of the Father, the hand of the One who is always waiting to embrace us with open arms.