“Uggh”, I sat in the middle of my closet floor with ten chocolate wrappers surrounding me, and a now aching belly. It had been a stressful day and as soon as my husband returned home, I retreated to the bedroom closet and broke into my stash of chocolate that I save for just such occasions. Now a few pounds heavier and a stomachache to boot, I didn’t really feel much better about my day despite binging on my favorite chocolate candy.
Although my situation has a lot to do with making better habits to relieve stress. When I reflect on it, I know that a lot of my overeating and overindulging also has to do with trying to fill a need deep down that nothing in this world can fulfill.
There are many ways that we as humans try to fulfill our hearts. We may try to fulfill ourselves by trying to obtain powerful positions, by worldly successes and wealthy, or by stuffing ourselves with food and drink. We may try to fulfill ourselves by searching and obtaining that “perfect” spouse, through unbridled sexual pleasure or through excessive entertainment and leisure. It may be through trying to keep up with the Jones’ or by trying to control everything.
Ultimately, however, while all these things may help us feel good for a time, none of these earthly things fully fulfill us.
“‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.'” John 4:13-15
The Gospel today talks about the Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at the well. This is a woman who has been married five times and is now living with another man.
She is a known sinner and for this reason she goes to the well during the heat of the day when no one else would likely be there. This is a woman who is searching – searching for love. Yet, she can’t seem to find it.
What she fails to realize is that she is searching for love in all the wrong places.
She thinks that a man on earth can fully fulfill her. Yet, Jesus meets with her this day to show her that it is really Him whom she is searching for. It is really only Him that can fully fulfill her deepest longings. It is only Him that can give the eternal spring of water that will fully quench her thirst.
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
St Augustine of Hippo
This great quote from St Augustine sums up why we can never be fully fulfilled by all these earthly things no matter how hard we may pursue them.
While earthly things and pleasures are good, and we are made to strive after them – we were also made for more.
We were made for God, and no matter how hard we try, we will always continue to thirst until we are quenched by Jesus’ life giving water.
This Lent, I invite you to reflect on what you are truly yearning for and what ways you have tried to substitute that longing for temporal substitutes that don’t really quench this thirst.