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Let God fill your life

Scott Boyle | Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When I was in kindergarten, 1 p.m. was my least favorite time of day. When the clock struck 1, our teachers would shuffle us down to the gym to begin what seemed like the longest hour of my life – mandatory naptime. Each day, I’d wait patiently for my teachers to find the plastic bag with “Boyle” written across the front. I’d then take my Lion King sleeping bag and scurry to find an open cot as far back in the gym as I could.
None of us really slept during naptime, though. Once they turned the lights out, we would immediately begin goofing off. We’d vie for cots in the back of the gym so we would be in the dark, out of eyesight and earshot of our ever-observant teachers. Each day, we’d try to switch cots and carry on conversations with one another. Most days, this went off without a hitch. Sometimes, however, we got caught.
Goofing off was the only thing that got me through the naptimes that seemed to stretch on into eternity. To combat my boredom, I would lie on my cot and wish to be older. After all, the older kids didn’t have to nap. My wishing, however, never seemed to have any great affect. Time never moved more quickly. If anything, it moved more slowly.
I haven’t changed much since I was little. I still have difficulty taking breaks. In many ways, I am still the same kid who could not sit idle or rest during naptime. During my high school and undergraduate years, my natural restlessness led to me to participate in as many different activities as I could. The only problem was that I tried to fit them all in at the exact same time.
Things got particularly bad during my sophomore year at Notre Dame. On top of my commitment to the Notre Dame Glee Club, I signed up to be a part of the Notre Dame Folk Choir. Then, when some of my good friends approached me about auditioning for Pasquerilla East Musical Company’s production of “Parade,” of course I couldn’t say no.
Juggling all of these activities as a Program of Liberal Studies major proved to be a recipe for disaster. The demands of three different rehearsal schedules left me tired and drained before I even started my day. I quickly grew to dread the classes that had once given me so much joy because I never had time to prepare. To make matters worse, I was always so busy that I never saw my roommates. Consequently, my friendships began to feel more like inconveniences than joys.
Although I did many things, I didn’t do anything particularly well. This was inherently frustrating for me, a guy who just wanted to make people happy. Each day consequently became an exercise in managing my frustration. But everything changed once I realized the real key to my struggles: insecurity.
I read once, “If you try to find intimacy with another person before achieving a sense of identity on your own, all your relationships become an attempt to complete yourself.” I realized I wanted to make people happy to mask the uncertainty I felt inside. I so desperately wanted to feel love that I set off on a frantic search to find it. I searched high and low in Glee Club, Folk Choir and PEMCo. And I found some of the most loving people, people who embraced all that I was, warts and all.
The problem, however, was that I used my busyness and heavy involvement in these activities as a Band-Aid for my insecurities. It was easy to feel loved when I was involved in these groups. If I sang a good solo or acted particularly well in a scene, “Good job” was the affirmation I needed. It was a sign of the love I most desperately craved.      
In “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Oscar Wilde writes, “In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place.” Well, I filled my mind with the deepest rubbish of all: that I only mattered and was loved when other people told me so. I wanted a place in people’s lives only so I could hear I was important, special and most of all, loved.
As French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal aptly observed, “[Our] infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is, by God himself.” I have begun to realize that the infinite abyss of my longings – to be known and loved – can only be imperfectly satisfied by earthly relationships. For it is in God alone that the love we all most desperately desire will be fulfilled.  
Scott Boyle is a graduate of Notre Dame and intern in the Office of Campus Ministry. He can be reached at
[email protected]
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.