Wholeness and Doughnuts
By Beth Demme
If you were a doughnut, what kind would you be?
Would you be a delicious hot glazed Krispy Kreme, fresh off the conveyor belt? Would you be a Dunkin’ Donuts Old Fashioned, ready to dive into a hot cup of coffee? Or are you a jelly-filled doughnut, sweet and surprising inside?
I know this seems like a silly question, but I’m guessing you need some levity in your life today. I know I do. In a world filled with tension, fear, and grief, I’m thankful for a quick smile and, come to think of it, a doughnut never hurts. 😉
The genius of a doughnut is its empty center (jelly-filled doughnuts aside). In people, however, an empty center is less appealing.
There might be something to this theologically, or maybe not.
I once met Christian recording artist, Plumb (real name: Tiffany Arbuckle). One of her biggest hits was a song titled, “God Shaped Hole.” It became pretty famous in 2003 when it was used in the Jim Carrey movie, Bruce Almighty.
But I have a pastor friend who really dislikes Plumb’s song on theological grounds. For her, representing God as a one-time stop-gap, hole-filling, kind of redeemer is too narrow. Making God the jelly in the doughnut misrepresents what happens when God’s transformational love becomes the focus of our lives.
God’s love doesn’t fill the emptiness once and for all. Instead, God’s love calls us into an on-going relationship.
The band U2 sang about a God-shaped hole way back in 1997 on an album titled Pop. Bono sings, “Lookin’ for to save my, save my soul / Lookin’ in the places where no flowers grow / Lookin’ for to fill that God-shaped hole.” Bono explained the significance of the lyric, saying:
Everyone’s got one. Some [God-shaped holes] are blacker and wider than others. It goes right back to the blues, it’s what first makes you want to shout at God, when you’ve been abandoned or someone’s been taken from you. And I don’t think you ever fill it, not completely. You can fill it up with time, by living a full life, but if you’re silent enough, you can still hear the hissing.
I think Bono is right. We each have our reasons to shout at God, or shout out for God. Everyone has empty places, our own soul holes. We can’t fill those holes on our own.
How can we go from hole-ness to wholeness?
In the history of language, there’s a connection between whole and holy. They both refer to being intact or undivided. Whole and holy both have linguistic roots that connote safe, unharmed, and in good condition.
When we seek wholeness, we really seek holiness. We seek God.
As Moses sang out in Exodus, “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)
Or as James said in his New Testament letter, “let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4)
The cross brings us both wholeness and holiness.
God isn’t like a can of fix-a-flat. God won’t fill our hearts and stop the love from leaking out. Instead, when we embrace God’s love, we become like a cross. Our head is lifted up toward God, our feet are rooted in God and our arms are stretched out wide to love and help others.
We find wholeness through God because God loves us, despite our holes. That empowers and enables us to love ourselves, and others, more completely. It leaves us feeling less empty, more intact.
I’m not sure what kind of doughnut I would be, but I know what kind of person I hope to be— a whole person who recognizes I am made complete by the love of God.
What about you? Do you like doughnuts as much as I obviously do? Do you feel empty in the center? Do you think “God-shaped hole” is strange theology? Tell me about in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook.
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