I had attended a reunion of one of my previous employers. It’s been 20 years since I left this company, having worked there for the best part of ten. I really enjoyed my time there and still think back on those days with great fondness.
But it’s the few minutes I spent with the final person I caught up with that stayed with me for a long time after the event. This is someone who has made it – senior executive, leader, super income, lives in prominent street in prominent suburb, kids in private schools, spent time overseas with company, and the list goes on. To his credit he’s tremendously humble and gracious, not really taking any of this for granted. During our brief chat and ever since, I’ve sensed a “void” in his heart – it’s like he’s standing in a dream where he sees himself fully alive, happy, fully engaging with everyone around him. He feels trapped, he wants to grab a hold of this “other him”, the life he so wants to have, but he’s unable to take the place of the “other him”, the happy one. He wakes up from his dream, feeling frustrated, anxious almost, as another day starts, another one where he no doubt will achieve much and have a great impact on those around him: work colleagues, clients, family, and more.
VOID IN MY HEART
I stumbled across these lyrics from a John Mellencamp song, titled funnily enough, “Void in my Heart”. They express my colleague’s emptiness perfectly:
There`s a void in my heart
I can`t seem to fill.
Been a parent,had three children
And a big house on the hill.
Hundred dollar in my pocket
And it didn`t buy a thing.
Now there`s a void in my heart
And a hole in my dreams.
Well I poured miles of concrete
And strung wire for telephones,
Dug ditches whenI was a yound boy
When I first left my parents` home.
Sang my songs for millions of people,
Sang good and bad news,
Now there`s a void in my heart
And a fire at my fuse.
Well I did everything just like they said
So I could find happiness.
Went to school and got a college degree
And at my job I did my best.
As I sit here alone tonight
I see a billion just like me
With a void in their hearts and running from eternity.
There`s a void in my heart I can’t seem to fill.
I do charity work when I believe in the cause
But in my soul it bothers me still.
Hey, Lord, well you made me like I am.
Can You heal this restlessness?
Will there be a void in my heart
When they carry me out to rest?
Mellencamp describes it well. We all have experienced this feeling at some time in our lives: a hole in my heart and under-nourished relationships.
I think this malaise is very prevalent amongst men – Mellencamp puts a number to it, “a billion…” We’re fed the lie about career, achievement, getting stuff whether it’s possessions, sex, power, whatever. Even doing good “charity work”, as Mellencamp suggests, doesn’t fill the void. None of it fills the hole. Why has depression become so prevalent in society when we are the most affluent society to walk the earth? And it’s not just the have-nots that are suffering, it’s those who have enjoyed the fruits of our affluence.
I sense it in many men I meet.
As Mellencamp cries out in question – “Hey, Lord, well you made me like I am,” – is this it, or am I supposed to live the rest of my days with this restlessness?
I feel lucky because I’ve felt pursued, pursued by God. (More of that later). And I reckon He didn’t make us to live with this restlessness.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus says in John 10:10b. So it’s pretty clear then in answer to Mellencamp’s cry – we weren’t created to live with a void.
So how do we fill it? How do have life to the full?
There’s lots I don’t know yet, but I’ve started out on the journey I should have commenced 30 years ago when I first met Jesus at 16. As a good friend said to me only today, he reckons his first 48 years were an apprenticeship and now life really starts. Well, that’s kinda how I feel too. I’m extremely grateful to be able to start out on this discovery.
I hope you will share it with me and I hope you stop by every so often, add your thoughts on your own situation as it’s likely many will be experiencing the same and I could sure do with the added encouragement too.