20 things that don’t work and 1 thing that does

For as long as I can remember, something just seemed wrong. And there were a lot of things wrong -- my dad’s drunk friends on our couch, not enough money to pay the cable bill or the newspaper boy, the secrets about our family that my mom whispered to me while dad sat in the living room, reading the paper while he waited for the game to start.

But as I grew up and built my own life, there was still this feeling. I married a great person. I went to a great graduate school. I made money. And yet, something just felt wrong. It must be me, I figured. I must be the thing that’s wrong.

As humans, we have a longing -- a longing for love, for belonging, for attention. 

Anyone who’s ever been married knows the heartbreak that comes with realizing that no one person can really fulfill this longing. No one person can be everything to us. We have to find something else.

This longing is a God-sized hole. 

We fill it with anything we can find. Romances, money, travel, new sun dresses, new haircut, new hair color, losing weight, a new fitness class, a new self help book, going on a trip, staying home, watching tv, eating a snack. I will do anything I can to FEEL BETTER. But ultimately, nothing works. I am restless and discontent. I look for peace and I cannot find it.

What’s wrong with me, I wonder? Back to the self-help section. I’m sure there is a solution.

I have done a million things to fill the god-sized hole inside me. I have:

  • Become a vegan (only for a few months, but still.)

  • I got my black hair dyed blond. It took 7 hours, cost hundreds of dollars, and ended in brassy, sun-inned hair that I had to re-dye a few days later.

  • I got a tattoo.

  • I moved across the country. Twice.

  • I moved in with a boyfriend. I moved in with a girlfriend. I got a different boyfriend. I got a different girlfriend. I repeated this endlessly. You get the idea.

  • I went to grad school.

  • I got promoted, I quit my job. I entered a new career. I left that career. I found an entry level position in a new field. I worked my way up. I left again.

  • I meditated every day.

  • I did an Oprah Your Best Life online program.

  • I learned to type.  

  • I worked and saved thousands of dollars.

  • I bought a townhouse.

  • I went to thrift stores every day and bought the cutest vintage dresses I could find.

  • I bought REALLY EXPENSIVE shampoo.

  • I went to used bookstores every day. I bought books that seemed like they were books that smart, interesting, arty girls would read. Was that me? I would will it. I would become it.

  • I did yoga every morning for three years.

  • I ran every morning around a high school track during one boiling Chicago summer.

  • I bought a million self-help books. I did not help myself.

  • I joined the PTA Board.

  • I bought a million things from Amazon.

In between all of this, I cried on the bus. I dated one boy after another and some girls. I found a mentor. I lost her. I found another. I lost him.

I tried. I tried. I tried.

I could never do well enough. I could never be the person I wanted to be. Often, I still can’t.

I still am not my own beautiful dream. 

But when I think the problem is that I am not thin enough, rich enough, accomplished enough, or just have not yet found the perfect self-help book, I am just getting farther and farther away from the solution to my actual problem.

The good news is that today I know that the problem is not that I weigh too much, or that I need a new pair of shoes, or a better house, or more friends. All of these things may be nice, but they are not my true problem.

My true problem is my disconnection from my own Higher Power, from a Spirit that loves me. Without this connection, no amount of new shoes, or weight loss, or new lipsticks, or new friends, or money will fill this emptiness inside.

There are a million things that don’t fill the God-shaped hole in my life. And one thing that does -- me showing up to try to connect with God.

All I have to do is try to connect with God and God will do the rest.

All I have to do is be WILLING for the connection to happen, and the Universe will do the rest.

What do you try to do instead of connecting with your Spirit, with God, or with your Higher Power? Comment or reach out and let me know. And then, when you see yourself doing this thing in the coming week, you can take it as a clue, that you can try to connect more directly. We can ask God, or the Universe or our Higher Self to help us. To show up. And it will. We just have to show up, and God will do the rest.

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