Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Love of God Part 2: Filling The Void

This post follows my previous post, The Love of God Part 1: Doubting God's Love. Perhaps this post should be more correctly titled "Trying to fill the void". I have heard it said, and believe, that there is a God-shaped void in our hearts that can only be filled by God and His love. If we don't believe that He loves us, we try to fill that void with something else. When we do that, whatever we try to replace it with, does not satisfy. The appetite for the replacement grows stronger and causes excesses, and often addictions to it, and searching for something else to satisfy, when that fix doesn't work. Anything we substitute for God becomes idolatry. Here are some ways people try to fill that void. It isn't an exhaustive list, but some of the big ones. Also, I should say sometimes people dealing with these things may not necessarily doubt God's love, but are searching for something to satisfy, to fill a void they don't even know they have.

Again, a disclaimer. Just because I discuss something on here does not mean I have personal experience. I did research on this subject.

1) Gambling. This can start small. Bingo at the local fire hall. Lottery tickets. Even something so simple as a raffle ticket. But once someone starts down that path, only God knows where it will take them. Some never lose it all, never get addicted, and gamble with control. Others, especially someone doubting God, quickly form an addiction to it. They often lose all they have, and lose everything, even their families.

2) Eating. There are different types of eating disorders. Some people just eat in an effort to satisfy an empty feeling inside. One that food can't fill, but only God. When food doesn't work, they eat more. They eat when they are lonely. When they are discouraged. Any negative emotion soon sends them to the fridge or refrigerator. Instead of going to a God they aren't sure cares, they eat. Others struggle with bulimia or anorexia. Often, it is rooted in doubting God's love and acceptance of them, and other people's.

3) Shopping. I love to shop. I admit it. I will go a step further, and admit this may be an area where my issues has led me. There have been times I have bought something that I didn't really want. I just needed to buy something. I wanted to buy a new book, and couldn't find one that I knew I would like, so I bought one anyway, and it was one I would never read, but it gave me my fix. My need to buy. I think you can love to shop, and it not be a sign of a deeper problem, but it can be a sign of issues like doubting God's love, and trying to fill the void with stuff.

4) Work. People usually don't become workaholics because they love to work. It is usually an escape. From things at home, or trying to avoid problems, whether outward or inward. A person doubting God and trying to be happy, can try to fill that void with work. In the end, they can lose what is most important. Their family, and their soul.

5) Pornography. It's so easily accessible anymore. You don't have to go down to the adult bookstore anymore and risk being seen. You can do it in your own home on your own computer. It really isn't hurting anyone. What starts as something to do while bored becomes an obsession and addiction. Not always because the person is struggling with issues of God's love, but those who are often pick pornography as the replacement, and what a terrible replacement it is. It can never satisfy, and it is a downward spiral. First it is the soft core. It can even start with the Sears catalog underwear models. Wherever it starts, it worsens until it is the hardcore stuff, and often leads to outright sex. The people who use child porn most likely didn't start there, but went on a downward spiral til that is where they ended up.

6) Sex. It's everywhere. Rare is the TV program that doesn't promote sexual immorality. Premarital sex, adultery. Anyone is at risk, but especially those with issues of doubting God's love. The internet is full of personal ads, often just for sex, chat rooms where people are trying to hook up for one night stands. Sure, people, especially men, seem to be driven to sex. It can be because of visual temptations, but it can also be because of a need to fill that void inside. The void that only God and His love can fill. Sex becomes more than a normal human desire, but an addiction, a drive to get the ultimate sexual experience that will satisfy, but it is an endless search. Sex is a brief and temporary satisfaction.

7) Homosexuality. This kind of goes in with sex, but it is different, so I am giving it it's own point. The reasons people turn to homosexuality are many and varied. They are not "born that way", but can have tendencies, and there are things that can help them go that way. One is a poor relationship with the same sex parent. This often gets transferred to God, especially in men, as God is referred to as a father. If they didn't feel their father loved them, they are on an endless quest to find a man who will love them. Since they can't believe that God loves them either, they have one failed relationship after another, and/or one night stands sometimes up to and over 2000 different men, trying to fill that void inside that only God can fill.

8) Pleasure. This covers a lot of my other points, but can take in so much more. We live in a pleasure mad society. Not all pleasure is wrong. We need fun. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. But pleasure can become an addiction and a substitute for God, whether it be sex, reading, shopping, playing video games, texting. It is a list longer than I have time or imagination to come up with, but no matter how innocent the activity, it can become a substitute for God, and a way to try to fill the void. The void from living a life without God and His love, or simply doubting His love.