I remember vividly as a ten-year-old, sitting in the back of my mother’s minivan after a day at school and a great gymnastics practice, eating sonic or some other deliciously greasy fast food, and saying to her: “Mom, I want something, but I just don’t know what.” I had this ache in my chest for something more, even though I was living the suburban dream.
Do you know the feeling? Have you ever gotten to the end of the day, and just felt unsatisfied? Like there was something missing? Like maybe if you had had that piece of pie, or bought that new pair of jeans, or went to coffee with that friend, made a little more money, THEN maybe you would be satisfied. Then maybe you wouldn’t have that itching desire that you can’t really put your finger on.
If you can honestly say that you’ve never felt that before, congratulations. Please share your secret with us. But for the rest of us, what do we do?
We live in a culture where every ounce of media tells us that we need to be fulfilled. We are shown people on TV, in movies and books that have attained this blissful state of enduring, easy happiness. They are happy because of a perfect marriage, a huge house, and everything they could ever need.
So what do we do? We try for that. We grasp for that. We try desperately to have a rom-com perfect relationship. We try to make more money so we can get the newest IPhone or stay up with the newest trends in clothing. But even when we do, it is never enough. WHY?
We desire the infinite. The fleeting happiness of a good meal always leaves us wanting more. Even beautiful sunsets have a tinge of bitter-sweetness because they end. And no matter how much stuff we acquire, money we make, and good times we have, it will never be enough. Because the finite world just isn’t enough to fill our infinite desire.
But there is hope. There IS something that is big enough to fill this gaping, infinite hole in our hearts. It is the infinite goodness, love, truth, and beauty that is God our creator, father, friend, brother, and advocate. It is only in relationship with God through prayer, the sacraments, and good Christian community that we can begin to satisfy our desire.
But even then, it is only a BEGINNING. We are never filled in this life. Because if we were, then what benefit would heaven be? You can’t be homesick when you are home. In the same way, we can’t desire heaven if our desire is filled on earth. We need to stop grasping anxiously for material fulfilment and start receiving what God has for us here, all the while hoping for eternal life, and remaining homesick for heaven.
P.S. Another piece of good news? That deep aching desire in your heart is only a reflection of God’s deeper aching desire for YOU. Take that to prayer, and try NOT to fall in love with the One who loves you SO MUCH MORE than that vast ache inside of you.
Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Maria