when god doesn’t fill the hole in your heart…

When I was a young girl I watched a show called The Donut Man. The main characters consist of man in overalls and a talking donut. Together they sing about God’s love.

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“Life without God’s love is like a donut, cause there’s a hole in the middle of your heart… only Jesus’ love can fill the missing part,” they sing.

I loved the show when I was younger (hello, donuts), but now I’m left wondering if The Donut Man duped me. The Donut Man and the rest of Western Christian culture, that is.

The older I get the more I’m convinced people are starving for love, worth, acceptance, belonging. Our insides are rattled with fear and insecurity; deep down we’re all awkward middle schoolers wanting the cool kids to notice us.

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Our deepest desire is to be fully known and fully loved.

The only way to be fully known and loved is by God.

But what if his love isn’t enough?

Last year I pulled a Peter; I jumped out of the boat. “Come,” Jesus said. (Matthew 14:29.) I obeyed, leaving everything safe and secure behind me to get closer to Him. I moved out of my house, my place of belonging. I loosened my grip on the relationships I held near.

It was like giving up a drug cold turkey. I felt the gaping hole in my heart, a hole I had stuffed and numbed with people. It ached for love. Oh, how it ached.

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It still aches.

I once heard someone say our fears are never as bad as we think they are. I politely disagree. Sometimes they are just as bad, sometimes they are worse.

“Was this loneliness there all along, masked by people and busyness?” I wrote in my journal yesterday.

Had I known how hard this journey would be this past year, how big the waves really are, I doubt I would have left the boat.

I wonder if the disciples ever felt the same way.

I gave up my idols, my everything, to follow Jesus, so shouldn’t my heart be whole? Shouldn’t I be fully satisfied in Him? He did, after all, come to bring life more abundantly. So why do I still feel lack?

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This is something I’ve wrestled with for months.

I feel close to him, intimate with him, married to him… yet I feel lonely and unsatisfied. What does The Donut Man have to say about that?

I don’t have the answers, but I know where I stand. For some time now I have accepted the fact that God sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). He does what he wants. We don’t always get to know why.

And just as I believe we’re all insecure middle schoolers desperate for love, I also believe we have fire and grit and stone at the core of who we are. If we dig deep and find that place, that strength, we can stand firm amidst the waves crashing down on us.

The more we activate that place inside us, the more resilient we become. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15). YES.

Maybe I’m in a season of testing, maybe not. Maybe God will fill the hole in my heart, maybe not. Whatever the case may be, I will dig deep and trust in him.

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I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I should finish this blog and publish it. Mostly because it’s exposing myself deeply and what if people think I’m crazy? Or worse, what if people try to fix me with Christian clichés?

I decided to go ahead and publish it because I have a nagging feeling I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I’m curious, do you feel like you have a hole in your heart Jesus hasn’t satisfied? How do you respond to that? Or if you don’t feel a lack, do you think you’re stuffing yourself with something else? Anyone feel 100% loved 100% of the time?

All vulnerable answers welcome.

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About Hope Naomi

Lover of all things tea and travel.
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21 Responses to when god doesn’t fill the hole in your heart…

  1. Courtney says:

    Yes yes yes!! This is so accurate! Whenever people say God should fully satisfy, I picture myself alone on an empty island in the middle of the ocean and everything should be great because I have God. It sounds so miserable! It’s like it’s wrong to want anything besides God. Thanks for your vulnerability. I really relate.

  2. ceglantz says:

    Thank you for posting this. It’s nice to know I’m not crazy nor “doing something wrong” so that I can feel loved/whole/accepted. Moving to Cali to go to seminary has been really hard, especially in the lady department. Yesterday I was told I “came on too strong” and the quarter before I was told I appeared too weak and needed to man up.

    None of these are who I naturally am… and when I voice this, I get the “get closer to Jesus” card.

    I don’t have any answers either. Yesterday I gave up hope of finding anyone for the umpteenth time… I dunno why I keep hoping, thinking “Maybe this is it and I just gave up too soon”.

    It hasn’t worked out yet.

  3. Freaking spot on. Yes. Thank you for your vulnerability and boldness to share the real things. So good.

  4. Joni says:

    Oh my word. I feel like I’ve been on a very similar journey the past 1+ years and am currently thinking some of the very same things. So good for my heart to read these words, Hope. Thank you!

  5. Nicky Keeno says:

    THANK YOU for this! This is exactly* what I am walking through right now. It is so encouraging to know Im not the only one. Thank you for your honesty and transparency.

  6. jjohnson164@mail.csuchico.edu says:

    this is so spot on. I often struggle with similar thoughts. It almost makes me feel guilty– God is supposed to be all you desire AND MORE…so why am I feeling so desperate for love? Am I doing something “wrong’?
    One of my main “love languages” is physical touch. I long to be hugged by my Daddy God…but that isn’t a physical possibility right now. So here I am, left waiting and wanting…but I trust in Him. I know that after my time on earth is done I will get to run towards His outstretched arms, and with a gleeful jump I will land myself right where I have longed to be for my entire life. He’s not a tame lion, but he’s good. And I don’t understand why He does or doesn’t do things…but I know He is perfect, and one day all of my desires WILL BE met.

  7. kristenhary says:

    I am a doughnut. I think it’s something I’ve wrestled with for well over a year. Not sure where I am at exactly but I know it’s brought a lot more vulnerability into my relationships and a lot of honestly into my conversations with God.

  8. This blog really spoke to my heart. Yes, I feel like a donut who has a hole straight in the center. I literally just left everything behind for the whole summer and went and followed God to Italy to teach in improvised villages and speak to people. I literally came
    Back home and felt this loneliness again. I’ve questioned myself on multiple occasions as to if I am meant to feel this way right now, is this just a test, or is this a place that I’ve placed myself? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I am still learning, and that there is more to come each day.

  9. Stephanie Vergara says:

    Hey girl! So I’m that person that doesn’t know you super well but still reads your blog a lot because I LOVE the vulnerability you have on here. And I decided to comment because the topic of loneliness is actually something that I’m super passionate about and I’m even writing a paper for it in seminary. I’ve been wrestling with this question for a while and read up on some great stuff about it (check out Matt Chandler’s church’s sermon series called Only the Lonely and Elisabeth Elliot’s The Path of Loneliness) and I’ve realized that this is both a yes and no answer: Yes God is enough to satisfy our needs but it’s more than just that. The pain in our hearts still resides for two reasons: because God created us to need community (like back in Genesis where He shows us that even though He was enough for Adam, He still saw that it wasn’t good enough for Adam to be alone) so that we may belong to the body of Christ. But also, we will still have this pain, even surrounded by people because we’ve been separated from God by sin. It’s not just a hole in our hearts, it’s the deep deep pain and void of realizing that we’ve been separated from Him. We tend to fill that hole with things in order to suppress the pain, even with good things like community but when that is stripped away, that hole is there. I’m still working on this whole thing but a good friend has told me that’s it’s possible, that the loneliness without the longing simply becomes the contentment of solitude but it’s meant to make us uncomfortable so that we may yearn for a place greater than here.
    Sorry for the really long comment and I hope that it’s not imposing or meant to be taken as offense to others because I too am tired of the ‘God will fill that void’ and that’s why I’m researching all of this–to find out HOW He fills that void.

  10. Alicia Doran says:

    I think C.S. Lewis nailed it on the head when he said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” I like when Paul talks about how much he yearns to be with Jesus after death. What a glorious day it will be when we meet our Lord and Savior! I don’t think the hole can be filled until His Kingdom comes. Until then let us long for the things of His Kingdom on earth while we’re here. That’s the closest I think we ever get to “feeling/filling” the hole.

  11. Brant Copen says:

    Haha! I used to watch the Donut Man too. As donuts we can stop our hole but what about the bite that someone took out of our side? What about the donut that was fully masticated? I really like Stephanie Vergara’s comment. We definitely weren’t made to sit on an island and read a Bible and feel fulfilled. We were made to landscape gardens and play with animals and live with a beautiful spouse and take walks hand-in-hand with God.

    Every once in a while I feel lonely but then I think about my last breakup and realize a little bit of loneliness really isn’t that bad. One time I did a Euro-trip by myself. It kind of sucked. I felt lonely. I learned that some things aren’t worth the lessons they teach you. That goes for the breakup too.

    This morning I led a devotion on singleness. Most of the people in the room were married. One guy was scrolling through his contacts, which is probably the least entertaining thing you can do with a phone but at least it was better than hearing Paul say, “I wish everybody was single like me.”

    Sometimes I think the only reason I like being single is because it contains so many possibilities for dating relationships. Kind of like postponing your vacation by a week just so that you can feel the anticipation longer. For years. I hope that’s not true. I hope I’m wrong about most things.

    That leads me to my concluding thought. I tend to say “but” after everything. “I like being single but…” “I believe man was made for intimacy but…” “I feel like feelings are misleading but…” So this time, in this blog comment, I’m not going to “but”. Hope, it sucks feeling lonely and/or unfulfilled. Sometimes I feel like that too. But at least God gave us chai to drink. Damn it.

    PS. I realize this comment adds absolutely nothing to the discussion. In fact it will probably confuse most of the people who can’t follow my poorly selected train of thought. What I’m banking on is that somebody out there catches on to some of the irony and is misguided into thinking I’m smarter than I am.

    PPS. Actually I’m not really sure if that’s my motivation or not. Actually, I think I was trying to be vulnerable but wasn’t doing a good job at it and decided to turn it into ironic humor instead. And then I realized my own inability to be vulnerable and decided to reverse and at least be vulnerable about that.

    • Hope Naomi says:

      “But at least God gave us chai to drink.” So much yes!

      I appreciate your nearly-vulnerable thoughts.

      I like that you say some things aren’t worth the lessons they teach you. I totally agree. (though most of our generation seems to pride themselves on not having any regrets.)

      Amen to Stephanie’s comment.

      PS miss our late night discussions in the mountains! (though said discussions really weren’t that late… it was just dark so it felt late. it was probably only 7pm or something, ha.)

      PPS was that solo euro-trip the one where you turned into a panhandler? 😉

      • Brant Copen says:

        Haha! 7pm is late for some people. And yes, that would be the same trip. The pan-handling was the redeeming moment of the trip.

  12. Jennifer says:

    Thank you.

    For being transparent.

    For being willing to risk it all…for HIM.

    Bless you,
    Jen

  13. Janet Mendola says:

    You blog makes me think of Mother Theresa. She radiated the love of Christ and poured out her whole life to serving Him among the poorest of the poor and wrote beautiful writings about God’s love. She also had Christian community with the other sisters at the ministry. She also was widely affirmed during her lifetime for her ministry (Nobel Peace Prize etc). But after she died her journals revealed her inner struggles to feel God’s love. She remembered the joy as a very young woman of having Jesus as her friend and husband. However for the rest of her long life in India I understand she never had that joyful experience come back and privately struggled with depression and not experiencing God’s presence. I wonder if she didn’t have some nutritional lack in India that biochemically she was prone to depression. But she was faithful and steadfast to the God she loved and who loved her.

  14. alysseay says:

    I am with you Hope. If I’m honest I find that most (if not all) of my decisions have been seeking to fill this place. It makes me think of cs Lewis who says keeping this longing alive is the true job of our lives. I long with you!!

  15. Sarah Hunt says:

    Yes. I am in a season I would describe as pretty “dry.” Yet everyday I choose to walk through with God. There are moments I am very sure that he is right there, watering me and proving his assurance. There are moments I have no clue what he is doing, or how it will all turn out. I trust even though I cannot see. That is what faith is all about, right? For me, the hardest part is not knowing. I so desperately want to know his will and what he is doing. Right now, I just do not know. God is not mean, and he is not trying to pull a fast one on me. So, I trust and listen. I do my best to walk in a victory I have yet to achieve. He is good, and even in the middle of this dry place, I have experienced his goodness and mercy. And for that, I am thankful. I cannot imagine it any other way.

  16. Crystal Lett says:

    Oh Hope,
    Good things come to those who wait. God will only give you things you can handle. Be still and know that God is there. After all, if God brings you to it, he will get you through it. And when in doubt do know, the Bible says so.

    Just kidding – I couldn’t help myself.

    I love you and your heart more than you’ll ever know this side of eternity. Our times of talking through the more difficult issues of life are ones I will carry with me until I die. I most definitely relate to being a doughnut. This life and this God are harder to figure out then the simplistic answers American Christian modernity provide. The questions we ask are the same that people have been trying to answer since the dawn of man. I take comfort in that. We are not alone – because we have the lamenting of all of mankind from the beginning until the end with us. Some days that helps, others it’s just frustrating.

    I also think that the older I get, and the more I search for the ultimate answer to human loneliness (whether perceived or real), the more I realized that the answers don’t come from above, but from right here in the world, right now. I think as children we were taught to always look to God to answer your gnawing questions and to fill you up. But I did that, and it helped 0. Finding earthly solutions “how about that for some Christianiese” has been extremely helpful. Talking about my thoughts with other people, going out and having some fun, making some mistakes, asking people of different faith, socioeconomic, cultural, ethnic, and national backgrounds has all been very helpful. It’s helped me feel connected to the rest of the world – kept me grounded. After all, if you’re too heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good. 🙂 I thought a Ken Harrell quote (that terribly, he claimed as his own) would be a good way to end this comment.

    Love you to infinity and beyond!
    Sex

  17. Lies Grace Warton says:

    I hear you. Deeply. Personally. It’s something I’ve wrestried with, felt guilty for, repented for, and yet deep down continued to question. In my case it is the desire for marriage and to live and serve and love God’s world alongside someone else. Yet that hasn’t happened. The more I’ve wrestled with it he more I’ve been comforted and challenged by that verse PRE-fall where God said it was not good for man to be alone. In a perfect world, where man had a perfect relationship with God – there was someone that was wrong. Man was alone. He wasnt just single, he was entirely humanly alone. God Himself says there that man is created not only to have relationship with Himself, but relationships with each other. He could have created a town of friends, and that would have sufficed to a point, but He created a wife for man. He shows how that deep desire for that particular level of companionship is a desire created in he world of perfection. It’s a good and holy desire. And a desire after God’s heart. God Himself has said it is not good, it’s lacking, incomplete. Solitary confinement, one of the most damaging punishments, is a reflection of this. Humanity was designed for God, but for humanity too. Our God Himself has lived for an eternity as a ‘fellowship’, if you will – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Does that mean the members of the Trinity are incomplete on their own? No. But as God is a Godney eternal relationships of love, so we, created in His image, are created for intimacy with ‘our kind’. In a strange way, that has brought me huge comfort. My God, who is my all in all, has endorsed my struggle, saying ‘it is not good for man to be alone’.

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