I’ve tried to fill the emptiness inside with a host of things in my lifetime. In my youth, I used drugs, alcohol, partying, and romantic relationships. Instead of shrinking, the emptiness within me grew. It became obvious that the path I headed down wasn’t taking me to good places, so, by the grace of God, I gave up bad relationships, excessive drinking, and drugs. I thought that because I gave up these things that I was in the clear, that I was healthy. When that emptiness persisted and tore at my insides, I had other innocuous – but equally inadequate – fillers such as school, work, friends, family, even church.

Failing Fillers

No matter what I’ve tried to fill my life with to take away internal pain, it has always failed me at some point. All it took was one road bump to throw me off kilter. If I didn’t get a promotion at work, I unraveled. If I sucked at having patience with my kids, I hated myself. If my church wasn’t meeting my needs, I questioned my faith. No matter who or what I try to fill my life with to make me feel happy and whole, it will at some point fail me. It is inevitable.

But God never fails. He will never let me down. His love for me is unchanging, yet it’s life-changing. He is the one source of true fulfillment.

Daily, I am faced with a choice: who (or what) will I look to for fulfillment? It may seem like there are abundant choices, but there are only two:

1) God

2) Something else

One choice never fails and one will always fail . . .

Our Spirit Longs for Connection With God

We are made of three parts: soul, spirit, and body. Just like my body craves food (preferably tacos) every day, so my soul and spirit crave connection with God. In Psalms 42, it says, “My soul thirsts for God.”

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 42:1-2

At times, my soul aches for God. It is no wonder to me that I was such a bitter and angry person for so long before I came back to the Lord – my soul was dehydrated and needing a long, deep drink of God!

Now, I can sense the disconnection when I’ve put other people (or things) before Him, I haven’t spent time with Him, or when I’ve done something wrong and I need to repent. When I return to Him, I am met with hope and a sense of wholeness in my current state.

When the Pain Doesn’t Go Away

Just because I put God first does not mean that I will never have pain.

I’ve experienced a deep loneliness for several weeks now, and I am tempted to fall into old habits to ease the pain. In spite of choosing God instead of other people or things to fulfill me, I still feel hurt. Why is it that if God fulfills me that I still feel pain? Why doesn’t He automatically enter into those places and make me whole?

I believe God is showing me that this feeling inside is a place that he wants to speak to and heal, and I need to trust Him. I’ve used people and things to make me feel a certain way instead of doing the internal work that I need to do. That kind of work is painful, and that is why I have shied away from it.

He’s using this time to show me places where I’ve relied too heavily on others, made them my security blanket. It’s hard stepping out into new territory without the comfort of people whom I’ve relied on. It’s lonely at times.

He’s showing me how I allow envy and comparison to erode the joy and hope that I currently possess. When I see someone who has a life that I want, I should praise God. God is good. He has a good plan for me – maybe it’s my dreams, and just maybe it’s something even better! Regardless, I need to trust and praise Him.

He’s showing me that I need to rise above the temptation to play victim, feel sorry for myself, wallow in self-pity. As Joyce Meyer often says, “You can be pitiful or powerful, but you can’t be both!” I’m not saying that I need to deny my emotions. They are real and they should be acknowledged. At the same time, I don’t need to dwell on them until they consume me.

This has been my prayer lately:

Lord, fill the emptiness within.

Let not my pain be in vain;

May my heart grow during this time so I can love more.

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