Personal Column: Filling the void

Kennedy Stidham, managing editor
Kennedy Stidham, managing editor

“Is the glass half-empty or half-full?”  The glass has seemed dry. Unfulfilled. Empty. And since I was little, I’ve been searching for something to satisfy the longings.

I voiced these feelings as a child. No older than 7 or 8, I remember telling my parents, “I feel empty inside”. It sounded like a dramatic statement for someone who’s life was seemingly well-rounded. With a loving father and step mother, a handful of friends, a roof over my head and clothes on my back, I should have been happier. But as grateful as I was, nothing seemed to be enough.

I looked to objects and people for relief.  Technology, clothes, makeup… Clubs, friends, spending time with my family… None of it cut it for me.

More than anything,  I tried to use success to fill the void. That was my motivating factor to put so much effort into academics and extra curricular activities. I thought if I made all As, or placed first in a writing contest, or got selected as a leader in Student Council… I’d feel better about myself. But nothing was ever enough. One report card from my freshmen year included 7 100s. My only thought was: if I was just a little better, it could have been 8. It could have been perfect. A part of me knew this was irrational, but I was consumed by wanting.

Worse, when the success, relationships or tangible objects ran out, my satisfaction would hit an all-time low. Several contests were entered in which I didn’t place; my heart broke each time. When friendships severed, the world seemed to fall apart. Without trendy clothes or improved technology, life seemed inadequate.

It became a cycle. Feel empty. Search. Receive a few days of bliss. Crash from the high. Repeat. No matter how I attempted to feed the starvation, my soul was always left hungrier than before. The pattern was obviously unhealthy, but there seemed to be no alternative, until God sent me a sign with flashing lights.

The revelation came during Youth Group. The discussion began about food: how no matter how big of a feast you have, the next morning you will wake up with a grumbling belly and the need to be refilled. The pastor translated this to life.

“No matter what you do on Earth, no matter what you receive… Everything will leave you empty. Everything but Christ.” Never so much so have I felt like a message was meant just for me, have I been so emotionally tied and moved by a topic.

It’s a transitional process to go from constantly searching to feeling okay. A process that still tries my faith. But the changes are ones I must undergo if I am ever to be fulfilled.

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’.” (John 3:65)