Have you ever felt an emptiness within you that nothing seems to fill? If you have, then you can probably relate to my words today and how I’ve been feeling for most of the past several months. I honestly feel like there’s this gaping hole within me that I can’t seal no matter what I do. Helping others, positive affirmations, healthy eating, meditation, spending time outside, artistic expression, prayer, reading uplifting materials, listening to spiritual music, you name it, I’ve tried it and yet I still feel this profound emptiness constantly gnawing at me inside. And for a recovering addict like me, that’s when things always start to get a little dangerous. Because prolonged feelings of emptiness have consistently led to me giving into some type of temptation in the past, that at least was able to numb that sensation for a short while.
Regardless, I do know what this emptiness stems from and is about. But let me first say this. I don’t believe it’s about something I’m not doing in life and need to be doing, or something I am doing in life and need to stop doing. Rather, it’s about something that has proven to be 100% out of my control to obtain and that alone has definitely been oh so frustrating.
So, what is it? What do I believe this emptiness is coming from?
THE LACK OF FEELING GOD’S PRESENCE WITHIN ME.
There, I said it and at least that weight is off my chest now. I’ve fought so hard to put a smile on my face when I’m out and about lately, especially when I’m engaged in recovery work. After all, who would want to pursue a life in recovery, seeking something Greater than themselves when the person they’re listening to is showing nothing but sorrow and despair all over their face.
But indeed, that’s truly how I feel inside, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY., where nothing I do, no matter how positive, how uplifting, and how driven I can be to get it ends up getting it. Instead, I’ve been left with this abysmal pit within me that is in stark contrast to how my best friend feels, the one who led me into a life of recovery and the one who guided me to seek a life filled with Christ.
He tells me that every day he wakes up feeling God’s presence bubbling up within himself and honestly, his smile, his words, and his actions all naturally demonstrate that. It exuberates out of him so much so that when you’re around him, you really do feel compelled to seek a closer relationship to God because of it. It’s the very reason why I sought a life of Christ and God again, after decades of giving into temptations to temporarily fill my emptiness.
Truthfully, I don’t know why I’m not feeling God’s presence right now, nor why I haven’t for as long as I have. I can only compare it to what Job or David described in the Bible in their respective chapters. Like them, I’ve felt God’s Grace before and lived for long periods being driven by such an amount of it, that no matter what pain I felt, I was always able to rise above it. Yet, that’s not what’s going on within me right now. Instead, it feels like I’m living in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
Some might say, like those church signs have often displayed, “If you’re feeling that far away from God, who moved?” The irony in that is that I haven’t moved. Not one bit. I’ve continued to do all the things I can to seek God. I have resisted all those temptations. I haven’t fallen back into addictions. And yet here I stand, feeling like God’s a million miles away and that’s precisely what my emptiness has been about.
I wish I knew how to feel God’s Grace right here, right now, as I type these very words. I wish I knew how to turn that switch on like it happened back in August over the course of an entire weekend, where one second I was feeling precisely like this and the next second I wasn’t anymore. For four days after that, I felt God’s presence exactly as my best friend describes and passed that on as much as I could while it lasted. But then it switched off again suddenly, as abruptly as it began, and for no specific reason.
So, that’s left me asking myself, what do you do when you’ve exhausted all avenues to fill that emptiness with God’s presence and are still left feeling empty?
Here’s my answer…
Stay the course.
As hard as it is.
And keep praying for the strength to not give up or give in to temptation.
So far, that’s helped me to keep going, to keep trusting, and to keep loving God, even as I continue to feel all this emptiness. Maybe this is what building faith is meant to be about? Who knows? What I do know is that I’d rather sit in this emptiness than fill it with something that will only cause more emptiness in the long run. Because in the end, I ultimately believe the only thing that will ever permanently fill it is God’s Grace…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson