Finding Value: Filling Deep Holes*
The premise for the book Wholehearted is that God shows us the identity gaps deep within our heart through negative emotions, and He does that in order that He might fill those gaps and we might know Him better.
But what about the person who realizes there are deep, deep, holes in their identity and they just can’t seem to find a way to climb out? Is there any further basic roadmap that might help them get rolling on the road to change? For this person, the good news is that they are already on the highway. They realize they have a problem.
The first step toward lasting change is to identity the problem. Though that may seem simple, it is not nearly as simple as it may sound. Most people would rather do just about anything than admit the problem is inside of them. To admit the problem means they have to be responsible for it, and behind the problem is something they would rather avoid all together, emptiness.
They may not be responsible for how the problem got there, but at this point, they must own it. It is not someone else’s problem, it is theirs. And the problem they have is not the emotion they are experiencing. The emotion is pointing them toward the problem. When the damage they feel inside is really deep, it can be very difficult to move forward.
The simplest name we can put to this problem is loss. We experience loss by not getting something we want or getting something we didn’t want. Sound familiar? When you lose something, what’s left is a void, an emptiness, a hole. Someone stole your car parked in the garage, and now when you happen to set foot in the garage, you realize there is nothing there. It’s empty. For us, the problem is much more serious than an empty garage. It is our heart. We can get a new car, but how can we fix a broken empty heart? Maybe we just don’t have that much power. Where do we go next?
The next step in moving forward is to understand the problem. How did this emptiness get there? The point of understanding the problem is not so that we might blame someone else for what we are experiencing in life, but rather so that we can turn lose of what we are experiencing. It can be difficult to turn lose of something when you don’t understand what you are going to turn lose of and how it got there.
Maybe my parents were never there to affirm my value. Maybe they were extremely controlling and I never was able to be responsible for my own decisions. Maybe I was never allowed to express emotion. May be I was never allowed to be a child. Maybe I was compromised somehow. Maybe I made bad decisions and now I feel like I can never go back and get what was lost. Maybe I was never allowed to pursue what I really wanted in life. Maybe I have been deeply disappointed. Maybe I never felt loved. Maybe I feel I was cheated somehow, or betrayed, and the betrayal goes deep within my soul. Maybe somehow I internalized a message that I was never good enough and I’ve spent my life trying to prove that I am. Now I’m tired of trying.
Whatever events we have experienced are connected to how we feel deep inside. And deep inside of us can be loss and sadness.
So, what do you do with loss and the sadness which accompanies it? You do the same thing that you would do when you lose a loved one. You grieve. That is the next step on our roadmap. Allow yourself to feel the problem. Grieving can be a very healthy emotion and it can be an emotion where we learn to let go of what we are grieving over. But for people to grieve and let go, they must have hope there will be something else to fill the emptiness they are admitting.
That’s where God shows up. It’s not that He shows up. He’s been there all the time. Even now, He longs to fill them with everything they were created for. He understands everything they have been through and are going through. He was there when it happened, and He knows everything about them.
When someone is going through this type of pain, if they can go back and find the presence and character of God, even in the midst of their pain and the experience that caused the pain, it can help them heal. If He was there then, that means He is here now. The character of God says He loved them then, and He loves them now with an everlasting love. He valued them when they were experiencing loss, and He values them now. He valued them before they were ever born. He valued them enough to die for them, and that is just what He did. If they were the only person who had ever been born, He would have died just for them.
When someone has found the presence of God and the value He extends to them in the midst of their pain and their past experience, it can give them the strength to move past the problem. Moving past the problem may include extending forgiveness, repenting of wrongful thoughts and actions, setting firmer boundaries, changing scenery, developing new ways of interacting with others, and framing present events and emotions differently than we have in the past.
Moving past the problem means that it is a new day. This new day may not be arriving all at once, but it is arriving nonetheless. It is a new day made possible by the one who has created us to know Him, and in knowing Him we find incredible value which fills the empty places. It’s a value given to us by God, and it points us to the One of all-surpassing value.
*I am indebted to Brad Strait, senior pastor at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church who shared this basic outline with me years ago
— by Rick Reitz
Reitz is the author of W(hole)Hearted. He is a pastor and speaker specializing in strategic planning and leadership development.
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