In college, I suffered the malady of a broken heart. Actually, it was more like a demolished heart. It was a terrible breakup and for awhile I didn’t think I’d ever be able to piece back together the shards of my shattered self. I felt sad, unlovable as well as angry, for a long, long time.
I met my heartbreaker at the Catholic Center and assumed that because he was a regular Mass attendee, he was a nice guy with a strong faith. Maybe this is true now (I hope so), but at the time he was a lost sheep (and so was I in many ways). He hurt me very much and it took me more than a year to get over him even though we’d only dated for about eight months.
During the intense heartache period I remember talking (actually sobbing) to a lot of my Catholic friends, wondering why this happened. How he could he change so quickly? How could he treat me with so little respect and why couldn’t I fulfill his needs and bring him closer to Christ instead of driving him away from his God and from me?
At the time, I blamed his sudden lapse in his faith solely on me and the way I treated him. One particular friend looked at me and said, “Katie, you’re trying to fill an empty well that can’t be filled by you or anyone else. What he’s seeking, you can’t give him.”
Honestly, as a 20-year-old I thought this was a load of you-know-what and a little too, I don’t know, deep or flowery or something. Yet, I like to think I’ve gotten a bit wiser since then and have a small inkling of what my friend was talking about.
So many of us, myself included, find ourselves wondering at times why we feel discontented or what’s missing in our lives. Maybe we’ve finally secured our dream job or found our soul mate or held that baby in our arms we loved even before we were pregnant or went through the adoption process and yet, we still don’t feel completely satisfied. Like Faust, we just keep striving and searching for that elusive key to supreme happiness. All the while, God is quietly calling us to look to him. Jesus is the only one who can fill our wells. If we drink of Jesus’ living water, then we’ll never be thirsty again.
What are you thirsting for right now at this very moment? And if you quench this particular thirst, will it strengthen your relationship with Christ, or will it only offer ephemeral happiness?
I can tell you what I’m thirsting for: the kind of honest love my 3-year-old exhibited during this past Lenten season. I heard her dump out a heap of toys and start to rummage through them. She’s in the habit of emptying every single toy container, littering our living room floor with potential choking hazards for our mobile baby (think marker caps, crayons and plastic French fries). I’ve asked her over and over please not to dump all her toys out if she doesn’t intend to play with them and I tell her that she must clean up after herself. I almost started nagging her again, but something stopped me so I bit my tongue. I came out of the bathroom and went to the kitchen to clean up after breakfast. A few minutes later Madeline ran up to me, smiling broadly. “Mommy!” she exclaimed. “I cleaned up all my toys by myself. I did it for you. I did it for Lent because I love you so much.”
Sure enough every toy was stowed neatly away, back in its place. We hugged and my eyes filled with grateful tears.
God is love. When we love and serve others, we are serving him. I need to remember this always as I go about my daily grind. I am thirsting for the means continually to offer this kind of simple but profound love.
My children constantly help me fill my well and I’m going to keep it brimming to the top by humbling myself and asking Jesus for His living water. It’s time to soak up our Lord, the ultimate thirst-quencher.