I recently read an article about hunger by Samuel Wells, a priest from the Church of England. He says there are two types of hunger: A hunger you can name and a hunger that doesn’t have a name. The hunger that you can name is easy–we hunger for food; our stomach tells us about that kind of hunger. But then what happens when we get home and the food we were longing to eat has run out? When we’re out of a job, we hunger for work. But what happens when we go on a job interview that we feel has gone really well, but then they hire someone else? What about the hunger when you’re single and you long for a partner, but you can’t seem to connect with anyone; you begin to wonder if you’ll be alone for the rest of your life. What about when you long with all your heart to have a baby, and you can’t get pregnant? This is the kind of hunger in our lives that we can name, and when we can’t get what we hunger for, it affects our whole life. This kind of hunger can be all consuming. Samuel Wells says hunger can “…transform your temper, your relationships, your patience, your clarity of thought, your whole character.” The inability to achieve the things we hunger for has the potential to wreck our lives.
But there is another kind of hunger, one that is deeper than the one that can be named. This kind of hunger has no simple solution…it doesn’t have a name, but it’s there. It’s there because many of us actually satisfy the kind of hunger that we can name yet still feel hungry for more. What is this hunger, and how can we satisfy it? Oftentimes we attempt to satisfy this unknown hunger by achieving…achieving a degree, a job, a partner, a house, a baby…and on and on. Looking to these things to satisfy that deeper hunger is the chase that many of us pursue. We chase and chase after these “things” to satisfy a hunger that can’t be satisfied.
Naming these two types of hunger can give us perspective on our lives. When we recognize what type of hunger we are experiencing, then we can better understand how to proceed.
What type of hunger are you most experiencing in your life right now?
Grace & Peace,