Every now and then, I find myself feeling a void in my life. It resides in the deep recesses of my mind and soul. Sometimes it seems a heavy fog has been laid over me. It’s not crippling – it’s just always there. Have you felt the same thing? Maybe in your work life, personal life, or even spiritual life?
You can (and I have) try to fill a void like this in many ways. But more often than not, it seems to escape you. This faceless and nameless weight that is on your life. It’s akin to feelings of guilt, where you are prevented from enjoying the moment because your mind is overwhelmed with something you didn’t do, or somewhere you’re not. The worst thing about these feelings is that they confuse us. They send us in all directions as we wage an all-out campaign to fill the void in our hearts and lives.
I have been that way most of my life. I’ve tried to fill the hole in my life with many things – friends, material objects, and new pursuits or ideas. But, as I said before, the solution evaded me – until very recently. The answer came to me in two different books. But the truth has come to me in my own heart, and it’s only way it can come to you. I took my question before God in an act of submission. I found that I could never answer this question alone. Only He can.
The first answer I received was in Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge. If you are a man and have not heard about this book, you must read it somehow. It’s one of those essential books for me. Ladies, if you want to understand us men, this book is about as real and close as you can get. Eldredge refers to the fact that men look everywhere for their satisfaction as a man. They are trying to answer the question of Do I have what it takes to be a man? That is why we feel these unexplainable feelings of emptiness sometimes. But, he says our mistake is looking in the wrong places for the answer. Often, we look to our women, or the women we chase (especially if the father in a man’s life never answered the question). This might not sound like a bad thing to you at first – I know it didn’t to me. What’s wrong with looking to the woman you love to validate you as a man? She can’t do it. A woman is fundamentally different from a man. You cannot look to her for your validation. Or, as Eldredge much more eloquently puts it,
“A man does not go to a woman to get his strength; he goes to her to offer it.”
But why? He explains the one way a man (or woman, in my opinion) can ever really know themselves is to know themselves in God. The one place we can be ourselves is at home. God is Home. You can be your true self in Him, and understand so much about yourself that you would never begin to find out on your own. We must stop looking to ourselves for validation – on the big project at work, the job hunt, in our marriages – and tell God that we only want our fulfillment to come from Him. You cannot know yourself apart from God.
My second answer came in the seemingly strangely titled The Ragamuffin Gospel. This is another brilliant book that you really must read. It masterfully paints God’s image of what real grace looks like. The author’s words warrant quoting here:
“When my head is enlightened and my heart is pierced by this truth [of radical grace], I can accept myself as I am. Genuine self-acceptance is not derived from the power of positive thinking, mind-games, or pop-psychology. It is an act of faith in the God of Grace.”
This is not a lazy self-acceptance that deems it OK to quit practicing spiritual or personal growth. It is the acknowledgment that we are as God made us, and that is enough. See, grace is the one thing that sets Christianity apart from any other religion in the world. We are offered Christ’s salvation – we need do nothing to earn it. Once you accept that fact, and accept that you are perfect and precious in God’s eyes, you can start living your life free and joyful like He meant you to.
Those were my answers. But the truth, as I mentioned, can only be found in your heart, in the heart of God. And the way to the heart of God is through prayer. That is where I came to my truth.
This is when the fog lifted in my life. I pray you let yourself feel this absolute freedom in your own life.