“Filling the Void,” Ensign, Mar. 2006, 56–57
It was a cold, clear night, and the moon lit the snowcapped mountains as it peeked above their rugged edges. I shivered as I climbed into my car, waiting for the heater to warm my frozen toes and hands.
My last client at the clinic where I worked as a psychologist had left an hour before, but even after finishing phone calls and paperwork, I continued to be drawn to thoughts of concern for her welfare. Sherry (names have been changed) was a 19-year-old college student with an eating disorder. She had been sexually abused as a child by her stepbrother and had never received treatment because her parents were afraid it would ruin the family.
My thoughts of Sherry were interrupted when a car sped past me and swerved in front of me on the freeway. My heart started pumping harder, and I mumbled a few words under my breath. I tried to regain my composure as I drove toward home by turning on the radio. I flipped through the stations to find a comfortable song. “All the same empty noise,” I thought. “I wonder why I keep this crazy thing on so much of the time. It’s almost like I’m trying to fill a void somehow.”
I looked toward the mountains again. The moon was so bright and full that it illuminated the clouds sitting above the mountaintops. I turned the radio off and began to be thankful for the majesty of nature. A feeling of enormous debt filled my heart and soul, and I began to pray. After thanking Heavenly Father for the beauty surrounding me, I began to muse: “I wonder, Father, why I have a yearning—almost a need—to fill every minute with music or television or something to satisfy the void. Why does Sherry seek to fill her void with food? Why does Susan feel a need to fill her void with drugs, and why does Bert seek to fill his void with sex? Why does there sometimes seem to be a giant hole in our lives, even when we want to do what is right?
After these questions, thoughts, and feelings filled my heart and soul, the answer came in a peaceful awareness. I had lived with my Heavenly Father in the premortal existence. In that realm I was filled with His divine love for me as His daughter. When I came to earth, I left His presence, and a void was created. I felt the void was placed in my heart for my earthly journey so I would seek Him again. As I seek to know and love my Heavenly Father, the void can be filled.
It was a soft and quiet answer—as quiet as the moonlit night. But it touched my soul, and tears began to well up in the corners of my eyes.
How many wasted hours and years do we spend searching after things to fill our voids in our lives: riches, possessions, sexual gratification, food, power, popularity? All of these can elate our senses or bring excitement, but they also return us to a place where we feel even more wanting. Thus begin the addictions, for we can never fill the void through earthly means.
Through the hundreds of people I see each year in counseling who are suffering from pain, loneliness, and addictions, I have reached a new awareness that they are all trying to fill their void in ways that only tear them apart. The void cannot be filled by external sources but must be filled from within.
The only way for us to fill the void in our lives is to come to know our Heavenly Father and His love for each one of us. That means to love Him enough that we want to do His will. Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). Christ is the bridge for us to return to our Heavenly Father.
Jesus explained this to the woman at the well: “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13–14).
As I rounded the final corner, my house came into view. I knew my family was inside and would welcome me home in love. I thought of another future reunion filled with love—perfect love: that of returning to Heavenly Father. As I pulled into the driveway, I was filled with gratitude for what I had been taught about the power of knowing God’s love. I thought of the promise made in different words nearly 2,000 years earlier by His Son:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).