The Rolling Stones & Soul Satisfaction
What satisfies you?
As I write this post, these three words are a top Google search. We'd all love to know.
Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones might have expressed it best, though, with these lyrics:
I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
So you might be wondering, "What is the deal?"
I try to exercise one to three times a week. I try to be a good person. I try to meet my work deadlines.
I try to destress so that I don't snap at my family.
The truth is that no matter how hard we try, satisfaction eludes us as human beings attempting to do something to fulfill ourselves or to be someone who feels fulfilled.
Here's what I'm not saying. I am not saying that you cannot choose how to respond to life. You can, and your happiness certainly depends on directing your own emotions, actions, decisions, and desires in a healthy, integrated, positive way. You have a good deal of freedom in regards to (and control over) your own behavior, body, and beliefs.
But even people who have comparatively complete control over their lives, schedules, work, belief systems etc., due to being rich or being organized or whatever it is—even these accomplished people can't get no satisfaction through themselves or their efforts.
Look at Mick Jagger (in 1965). He now has eight children from five different women and a net worth of approximately $400 million, yet one of his biggest international hits expresses deep frustration with commercialism and the plight of not feeling sexually satisfied. Again, what's the deal?
Here's what's going on.
First, let's define satisfaction. Satisfaction (noun): fulfillment of one's wishes or needs, and the pleasure of that fulfillment.
Mick Jagger has the money and influence to fulfill any and all of his wishes or needs, right? Wrong.
The truth is, money and influence can only fulfill a certain set of needs and wishes—a very corporal and limited set. And human beings are not just bodies and minds. We are also souls. If you don't know that or you don't believe that, you can't get no satisfaction.
Well, you may be able to fulfill your ancillary needs and wishes. You can make yourself a peanut butter sandwich when you're hungry or watch Netflix when you're bored to take your mind off of quarantine. But every form of what I'll call "ancillary satisfaction," being satisfied by material things, sexual experiences, or even relationships depends on another, deeper kind of satisfaction: soul satisfaction.
Soul satisfaction is the fulfillment of our need as souls, created by God, to experience grace and communion from him and with him. It is the pleasure that comes from satiating that hunger placed in every single person on earth at conception and from scratching that itch that sometimes gets buried very, very deep under layers of hurt and cynicism. The itch to know what satisfies us.
That's why I was incredibly moved today to read the following exchange between Jesus and people like you and me. Some of them believed in God, as faithful Jews, but others were feeling stuck. Empty. Frustrated.
So Jesus said to them, "...My Father gives you the true bread from heaven . . . that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
So they said to Jesus, "Sir, give us this bread always." In other words, that sounds flipping amazing. Go on, sir. We're intrigued. Hit. Us. Up. And here is his response. Note: This is the only man in human history whose claim to be God is validated by billions of people's faith. He says:
"I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."
Soul satisfaction. On offer, free for the taking. Way better than the international COVID bread-baking competition of 2020.
The thing that frustrates me most as a Christian is that so many people are pursuing physical, mental, professional, and sexual satisfaction without pursuing soul satisfaction. It's an uphill battle. The good news, though—really, the best news—is that it doesn't have to be.
Soul satisfaction is absolutely, one hundred percent available to you. Today! This very moment! It is available in Jesus, the immortal God and Creator of the universe who became man so that he could be visible and audible to you. So that you could know him who created you for union and friendship with himself. So that you can be satisfied.
There's a secret in the world of Jesus-followers that is very puzzling to those who have not encountered God deeply. People whose souls are satisfied simply do not need all of the same material and circumstantial bells and whistles that people whose souls are spiritually depleted seek after and take comfort in. I have Christian friends who live dramatically spare and simple lives (externally, at least) intentionally, because they are so in tune with the truth of the primacy of soul satisfaction. These friends are very Mother Teresa-esque, although they live in small-town America. How can I compare my friends to Mother Teresa, you might be wondering.
Here's how. Make no mistake: Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta was not full of peace and satisfaction because she was altruistic and found pleasure in tending to lepers. She was fulfilled because she received the bread of life through daily prayer and encounter with Jesus in Communion. She was sustained every single day, by her own admission, in Jesus. That was it.
And God didn't pick her out to receive him in an extraordinary way, contrary to popular belief. Jesus is as available to you, right now, as he was to Mother Teresa. This phenomenon has been documented since the earliest days of Christianity. Here's how the apostle Paul, one of the first Christians, explained it.
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:12-13)
There you go, folks. Somebody should tell Mick!
If this resonates with you, here are two action steps you can take. One, share this post on social media. Maybe it will reach someone who wants soul satisfaction, but doesn't know the secret sauce. And two, go to Jesus. Read what he said. Order something called a "red letter Bible" on Amazon or wherever you shop online, to see his actual words highlighted.
We'll talk more another time about how to receive Jesus' words in a way that is fruitful. For now, it's enough that you go to him. Because here's another of the specific promises of Jesus. "Knock" on my door, he says, "and the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7).
Kathryn Elliott is a Catholic journalist and religious media consultant. She loves comments and feedback, so join in the conversation here or on social media.