Striving for Fulfillment on the Hamster Wheel of Life
I hail from the land of the cheese and home of the Packers, none other than the sometimes frozen tundra of Wisconsin, where cows graze and hope to find a speck of hay not frozen solid. With those frigid temperatures, I developed a deep respect for our furnace at a young age as we tried to stay warm, even when the thermometer read -15 degrees.
As the oldest of four children, our house never lacked for love, laughter and warmth. Really the only thing missing was a family pet.
When we begged and pleaded for a pet of our own, never did I imagine I would have to settle for a fluffy hamster named Spike. While he wasn’t the dog I had envisioned in my childhood fantasies, he would have to do. My mom said that we had kids, not pets. (I can COMPLETELY understand this philosophy now that I have children!)
While Spike was fun enough, I couldn’t understand his love affair with his wheel as he chased nothing for hours. When that no longer satisfied him, he would find a way to escape to the depths of our house and into the furnace. Since it was ALWAYS on, suddenly our noses would be assaulted with the most putrid odor; one that resembled singing and burning hair. We quickly learned that Spike was a little Houdini and master escape artist. Comically, it became routine. When we smelled singing hair, we quickly checked the hamster cage as mom or dad rushed to rescue our tiny friend from being engulfed by flames.
Memories of Spike always make me smile and as an adult reflecting on my childhood, I realize that my fluffy friend and I are similar in many ways. Unable to understand his constant need to run in circles with my simple, child mind, I completely understand his compulsion as an adult.
I understand because I am on my own fictitious hamster wheel, running in a never ending circle, exhausted and weary from striving and chasing the wind. I keep running, keep balancing, keep doing, keep striving. All for what? Why do I, like so many, try to run this unattainable race until I am ragged and have nothing left to give?
For everyone, the motive is different, though the outcomes are often the same. In my non-expert opinion, those who are running in circles (a.k.a. striving), fall into two categories; those who strive for possessions and materialism and those who strive for peace and fulfillment.
Those who strive for materialism and possessions are looking for riches, things that are new and bigger and better. The more they acquire, the more they must have. It is never enough and no matter how many toys are in the toy box, those types will always want more and will never be satiated. Ever.
The other category, those seeking peace and fulfillment, are desperate to stumble upon anything, or sometimes anyone, that will give them hope, peace, fulfillment, and love.
The irony of these two categories is that they are often intertwined and overflow into the other category. For example, Johnny searches for riches because he longs for peace and hope, even if he doesn’t realize it. Regardless of category label, both categories have the same outcome.
Lack of satisfaction.
We, as humans, were not designed to be fulfilled here on earth and yet we grasp at straws, striving to do more, be better and find “happiness” under every rock.
Striving starts innocent enough, often with a harmless goal. But those goals can overtake and overpower our lives in the blink of an eye and we may find ourselves placing happiness as a contingency of reaching these goals. Can you relate to any of these statements?
I will be happy when I lose 25 pounds.
I will be happy when we make more money.
I will be happy when I have a bigger house.
I will be happy when I have kids.
I will be happy if I get new clothes.
I will be happy when this season of life is over and the next begins.
At some point in our lives, most of us have been this desperate, racing on our hamster wheels, searching and striving for fulfillment in the things of this world. These situations have been us, in some form or another, racing for happiness and seeking peace.
But fulfillment is fleeting, Once we achieve what we are striving for, what we hope for and long for, it won’t leave us filled. For a short time we may experience a high that can accompany reaching a milestone, but it will never bring us true satisfaction. It only whetts our appetite, and leaves us hungry for more.
There is a reason this kind of contentment can’t last. There is a reason that striving is a vicious cycle and will start over again shortly when we reach our goal.
The truth is, we all have a void inside of us that can ONLY be filled by God.
NOTHING else can fill it but His presence and His peace.
He created you and sculpted you EXACTLY as you are. He designed you to desire Him above all else. By seeking Him, knowing Him, spending time with Him, praising Him, worshiping Him, talking with Him and listening to Him, that void that cries out to filled, becomes full and complete.
He wants you to seek Him as the filler of joy and longing. NOTHING of this world will satisfy you and quench you like the spirit of the Lord.
Whether or not you realize it, He is calling YOU.
He is calling YOU to walk with Him and to have a relationship with Him.
He is calling YOU to stop striving to and seek fulfillment in His presence.
He is calling YOU to rest in His peace and to cease your striving for things of this world.
He is calling YOU to let Him shelter you from the storm and to lay your burdens down.
That void inside that demands to be filled and drives you to seek wholeness and completion, is finally fulfilled at the foot of the cross. Jesus is enough. Stop striving.
I’ve found that sometimes my striving grows wildly out of control and I’ve completely taken my eyes off the Lord. I am trapped in the furnace of life, like my hamster Spike. It is then, when I cry out to the Lord, that He reaches His mighty hands into the furnace to rescue me. He dusts me off, holds me, and reminds me that the parameters for how to live life abundantly that He has given me through His Word, are not like Spike’s cage.
I am not trapped by His guidelines and don’t need to escape my “cage”, searching for the things and experiences I think I need to be filled. Instead, life with Jesus is where there is true completion and fulfillment. I no longer have to strive, looking for temporary happiness, because I get to rest in the shelter of the Almighty and live a life contented knowing Him intimately and having a relationship with Him. What an amazing experience it is to live in that freedom and to get off the hamster wheel and live in His peace!
Today, you can rest in His presence, too. I urge you to stop running, stop striving and seek Him for true fulfillment. Only then will you be satisfied. Will you take His hand? He is calling YOU!
Friends, mark your calendar for this Saturday, July 12. The Saturday Soiree Blog Party will launch here with an AMAZING giveaway and inspiring posts by talented authors around the net.
Calling all bloggers! Please link your favorite post(s) that you would like to feature at the Blog Party starting on Friday night at 8:00 for your convenience. I can’t wait to share your work!
This post was linked to the Joy Dare Blog,Juana Mikels , Serving Joyfully. and The Weekend Brew.
Oh if only I could stop forgetting and getting back on that wheel! What a great mental image! 🙂
Me too! I am so guilty! 🙂 We are works in progress!
Searching for satisfaction in so many things that even when attained can’t possibly be enough. Beautiful post full of truth. I’m looking forward to joining your blog party on Saturday, and would love to have you come over and join our regular Blessing Counters Link-up at CMB. It’s so nice to meet you Sarah Ann. Blessings to you!
I am so glad you will be joining the party on Saturday! I will add the Blessings Counters Link-up to my regular routine and be sure to link-up there weekly. Be sure to add your link in the Blog Party Directory under the Saturday Soiree Blog Party tab so others can find you, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you on Saturday!
Such a great mental image! Thank you 🙂 I didn’t realize you were a fellow Wisconsinite. How neat! Have a beautiful day <3
Yes, I was born and raised in Wisconsin until 14 years old! I love that place but the Southern winters suit me better. Thanks for stopping by! I love your blog!
Illinois born and raised
loved trips to Wisconsin
and yes, the cheese!
I have jumped on the wheel far too often
I loved Illinois too, especially since we lived in Kenosha, which is so close to there! Have a blessed weekend!
This was a strong and oh-so-truthful message. I really thought it was insightful to talk about the things that most people strive after. You’re absolutely right. Sometimes I strive after the approval of others, or an escape from anxiety, or other forms of fulfillment that will never satisfy. We can end up distracted, discouraged, and defeated – not to mention, exhausted. The Lord invites us to lie down in green pastures, and to be led beside quiet waters. He asks us to give Him our burdens, and take on His yoke. And when we do, this is when we hear the still, small Voice that brings such comfort and peace.
(P.S. I’m glad that Spike never ended up *toasted* in his meanderings!)
Thank you, Sharon! It’s amazing how when we step back and stop striving, we see we longed for God the whole time. God bless you today and thanks for stopping by!
Great message. There is a fine line between setting goals and striving towards something while at the same time being ok with where you’re at. This is something I have struggled with in my 20’s. Reflection and goal setting are things that are big in my life. I went to two jesuit schools (undergrad and graduate school) and these concepts were emphasized heavily. Finding balance will always be the key.
Thanks, Trish! There is a fine balance between goal setting and letting it over take you. I completely struggle with it, too! I am praying that the more I am conscious of the tendency to take my eyes off the Lord, the more I will learn to listen to His spirit prompting me to refocus my eyes on Him. Thanks for chiming in!
Thanks for stopping by from Recommendation Saturday! You are right that it never is easy, but having our hearts and minds fixed on Him is what He wants from us. I know I am a work in progress and His grace is enough to cover my shortcomings! Please stop by the Saturday Soiree Blog Party and share your heart with us. I would love to have you!
I often feel like a hamster. Thank you for sharing at The Weekend Brew!
Thanks for having me, Barbie and for stopping by!
I’m so glad to be next to you at Barbie’s! Your post is so good.
Thanks, Elizabeth! I can’t wait to check out yours! Blessings!