Have you ever heard the song God Shaped Hole by Plumb? If you haven’t, you may want to give it a listen. It’s a decent song and I have fond memories of it. If you’ve spent any time in church, you’ve probably heard someone suggest that God is the thing people are searching for. People try to meet their needs through drugs or sex or money or success, but what they’re really searching for his Him.
I definitely don’t disagree on this point, but I also think it’s incomplete. I don’t think there’s one hole in all of us, but actually several, maybe dozens. I think there’s certainly a “God shaped hole,” a need that only He can satisfy. I think that has a lot to do with finding meaning in our life, in knowing there’s something beyond the world we see and the relatively short life we get to live. Without that, how do we find meaning and significance in our lives where, as we’ve been told, we’re such a small speck in a vast universe?
However, I think there’s also a friendship hole. I think there’s a need for a person or group of people who we relate to on equal ground. People who have seen us at our worst and still keep coming around. People who understand our motives and intentions, our desires and fears and who, despite the good, the bad, and the ugly, still want to spend time with us. That’s an incredibly meaningful gift and one that God, with His lack of physical presence and audible voice, doesn’t fill.
I’d also suggest that there’s a hole that can only be filled by meeting a need for others. Whether that’s a job, raising children, or caring for a loved one who is unable to care for themselves, I think most of us need to be needed. We need to be valued and validated by something outside ourselves to show that out daily life matters. If we don’t have something to devote our time and energy to, a sense of directionlessness can set in and leave us without a reason to get out of bed.
Finally, the one that I think has caused me the most distress is the need for a spouse or partner. While I think some people have this need more than others, I would imagine that just about everyone will admit to some lack of fulfillment when faced with long stretches of singleness. I think the needs that this meets for us is consistency. Someone who is always there when you call and who you can count on to be with you day after day. I think most of us also have physical intimacy needs that are typically only met by a spouse or partner and those are important too.
I believe it’s imperative that we’re honest with ourselves about these needs and that we give them the weight they deserve. As Christians, there’s often a temptation to suggest that God will meet all of our needs and that we don’t need anyone or anything other than Him, but I don’t think that’s true. I think people who believe this misinterpret things like Philippians 4:19: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Some people take this to mean that God is the direct source of fulfillment, that if you just trust in Him, those needs will magically fade away, but to me, it makes a lot more sense to understand God as the source of the people who meet those needs. God doesn’t replace a spouse, he provides one. He doesn’t fill that friend shaped hole in your life, He brings together people who can mutually satisfy that desire in each other. And, very importantly, “living for God” and following the commands of the Bible is not a purpose in life! Being perfect doesn’t give you a reason to live! If that’s the only purpose you’ve found, eventually you’re going to implode from dissatisfaction.
Finally, I think we, as Christians, often feel selfish expressing our needs or working towards satisfying them. We’re told to be selfless and to put others first (which, don’t get me wrong, I fully believe in), but I also think that like a cracked vessel, we leak until those holes are filled. Some of our joy, our energy, and our passion are wasted when these needs aren’t met. Not that you can’t function, but you’re not functioning as your best self when you’re preoccupied with a lack in one of these areas. So often, we’re told to just ignore it, but more and more, I’m realizing that’s not the solution and that God has something better for us.