God Shaped Hole

“There is a God-shaped hole in the heart of every man, a painful void that we all try to fill with the things of the world. Only God can fill that hole and we will be restless and searching until we find him.”

Imagine God creating us with this hole inside, then setting us off to wander about like little mechanical penguins searching for the right shaped peg. And imagine God reduced to a peg that can fit inside us somehow. It’s not an appealing image and not a realistic one either.

Imagine instead that God created whole children, born into the happy intimacy of his family. Adam and Eve knew God as their loving father, walked and talked with him in perfect security and trust, growing up to become like him. They were one.

Then the trust was broken. The accuser accused God of manipulating and oppressing – like the God-shaped hole God. Suspicious of their Father’s motives, his children sought their own way. They left the natural path to maturity and took a shortcut to instant knowledge and power. When Father looked for them, they hid from him in fear and shame. Intimacy and unity lost, they knew only separation and isolation.

So we have today, not a built-in God-shaped hole, but a deep longing to be restored to our place in the family. God has not disowned us; he has not driven us from the family; we have fled in fear and doubt. We have disowned him; we have created the longing. And we are not alone in it. Our Father also longs for the restoration, and even when we do not understand the longing or realize its object, he pursues. He has pursued us even to death, that we may be restored the moment we see him as he truly is. Only the lie lies between us.

2 thoughts on “God Shaped Hole”

  1. I am enjoying your writing style. I especially like the image of us as wind-up penguins.I sometimes feel like one. Seriously, I had not thought of the negative aspects of the ‘God shaped hole’. Lewis and Thomas Merton both used the idea of a longing for home that is inbuilt. I like that better, as long as you think of home as family and not place. We are born with needs that only God can fill. That is not bad thing. He needs us as well. I know that borders on heresy, but I believe that Love needs an object. He needs to love because of His nature.
    Perhaps a better analogy than filling our God shaped hole with things other than God is that we are like Odysseus jamming wax in our ears so that we cannot hear the Plaintive calls of our Father to come home.

  2. It’s unfortunate that Pascal — the originator of the concept of what is now referred to as a “God-shaped hole” — is marginalized by this modern rendition of his original thought. He was creatively describing how we can feel empty, try to fill it with fame and fortune, and still feel empty (he called it an abyss, an infinite hole, that can only be filled by an infinite object, i.e., God). He was not attempting to describe God’s ways.

    Your comments still stand, Jim. I just think people should read the original rendition, if nothing else to see how Pascal, as a great thinker, developed some interesting analogies and metaphors of life with and without God.

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