Some nights, when I really get to thinking, and maybe I’ve been drinking (shjust a litele bit), and after it gets real quiet and I’m laying there dead still in bed, after all the drunkies have gone home and their spilled beer has either dried up or frozen solid, I finally get to thinking about my life.
It’s only when the world falls silent around me that I feel safe enough to begin poking around inside of the cave of myself, probing and spelunking away into all of the successes, mistakes, and awkward conversations of the day. And as I find myself attending to the dual tasks of fending off sleep and feeling through the sore spots and pleasures of the darker depths of my soul, sooner or later, I tend to bump into the elephant in the room: I come across a wide chasm of echoing emptiness and sadness.
If I’ve fallen into a more surreal type of dream by this point, perhaps I’ll kick a pebble into the hole or drop a coin and wait for the clatter, but the trinket always arcs its way down into the tarry depths in total silence. Sometimes I won’t even drop anything into the hole, I’ll just be standing there and things will get sucked in. Sometimes I’ll stand right on the edge and wonder about getting pulled in myself. This gulf of inner ennui is a danger zone, a natural hazard.
It is a grand canyon and it needs to be filled.
I know this isn’t just me. My theory is that we all have these holes inside of each of us (what some have called “God-shaped” holes). Some are bigger and hungrier than others, but they are all thick centers of loneliness and listlessness (and depression?) that we try to fill with anything and everything that we think will make us…happy.
And so we try to fill the gulf with friends, work, relationships, and personal and professional development. Or we try to drown it, pouring in alcohol, drugs, empty sex, sacrificing all of these things to the gaping hole, just hoping it will become more full, hoping that that gnawing feeling (that comes to us when we really get to thinking about our lives) just freaking goes away.
And so we stand at the edge of this great snarling crevice and daintily surrender our various virtues and artifacts, casting them into the hunger below. One by one, they fall, but the hole remains just as big as ever. I don’t quite know how to explain why I can’t ever seem to earn happiness from these fleeting things.
I guess it’s like dropping objects into the ocean. Once they hit the water, there are no longer any individual objects. There is only the ocean. And in fact, far from being satisfied, the depths violently surge with each added treasure. Like the ocean, this hole consumes all that enters there. And so I have found no lasting fulfillment from the things of this world.
I’ll wrap this up.
My secret is that I live with this sea of murky gunk sloshing up inside me all day, every day. I don’t know if depression is the right word for it, though perhaps it is. I think I’m more inclined to think of it as my own manifestation of the dark side of human nature.
My secret is that I’m hollow. I’m truly empty inside. I have a huge hole inside of me that is too big to fill with the things of this world. When I really get to exploring myself and gauging my own happiness, I often come up dreadfully short. I realize how lonely I am. I realize that all of the things everyone has been telling me would make me completely happy (even the good things!) leave me as unfulfilled as ever. I realize that the more things I try to satisfy myself with, the worse I end up feeling and that the harder I try to drown out that voice that cries “there’s more than this!” the more I can’t stand to be alone with myself.
So what’s the solution?
I don’t have an easy answer. As the Dread Pirate Roberts said, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
But a beautiful woman once told me a better quote. She told me that “there are no holes in the Gospel.”
I’m struck by the truth of her words.
There are NO HOLES in the story of a God coming down to earth as a man, the story of a God so loving that He sent His own son to save us from death itself.
Though the sea may rage and consume all “that enters there,” God is of a similar virtue. He will overwhelm anything you throw at Him and begin to repair your heart and fill that hole with lasting joy, peace, and happiness.
I pray I’m on the right track.
So today, I will ask God to continue to fill the hole in my heart. I can feel it happening already sometimes. I suspect He will come and make a splendid castle out of it and come live there Himself.
Today, I will trust in the Man who said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more fully.”