At a Steubenville Conference not too long ago, LifeTeen’s Emily Wilson told hundreds of young people that we are all hungry and thirsty for more than what the world has to offer.
At a certain time in our lives, we realize something is missing, so we start looking, searching, yearning. Wilson talked about how, often, we go around trying to find solutions for this thirst, trying to fill it with vanity, material possessions, social status, sex and the desire to be loved, and other things. But we actually have a “God-shaped hole” in our hearts, she said.
This made me think of St. Augustine’s famous words, “Our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Like many young people, the saint felt out of place in the world and he knew that he longed for something more.
His urge to escape intensified as he grew older but “whatever he consumed or watched, or however he entertained himself, he was not filled,” an Augustinian website explains.
This is a feeling we can identify with, but how we react to it determines whether we find fulfillment.
How many times has your restlessness led you to fleeting distractions that left you emptier afterward? Deep down, we know passing excitement or happiness is not enough.
Sometimes the superficial “quick fixes” can even drive us further away from what we truly need. They might keep us from seeing God’s miracles around us.
Do you have a heart that desires something greater?
We can learn a lot from the restless heart of St. Augustine. Our thirst for more can drive us closer to God, who planted the seeds of this yearning for him. If we seek God and are open to let him act in our lives, we can find what we are looking for.
The good news is that our restlessness is a sign that we are made by God. This realization stirred St. Augustine to live in a way that deepened his relationship with God and would lead him to eternal life.
When we try this, we find that God meets us and loves us where we are. And God helps us to get where we need to be.
Last year, Pope Francis told young people what he and other church leaders learned throughout their lives, that “God does not leave anyone disillusioned. Jesus is waiting for you.”
Wilson ended with a quote of St. John Paul II during World Youth Day in 2000:
“It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.
“It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”
Maria-Pia Negro Chin is bilingual associate editor at Maryknoll Magazine.