Though I haven’t seen the whole movie, nor do I plan on it, I have seen a well-known clip from the movie Jerry Maguire. It’s the scene where Jerry lovingly tells Dorothy, “You complete me.” Dorothy tenderly replies to Jerry, “You had me at hello.”
In just a few words, Jerry encapsulates humanity’s greatest search. Every human is searching for something or someone to complete them. Every person is aware of their own inner emptiness, a voracious vacuum in their life that’s trying to suck meaning from every encounter or experience. We’re haunted by the emptiness within us; we’re afraid that it’ll catch up to us before we can satisfy it. We’re quick to try to fill it, to make it go away, to act like we have a handle on it. But when we’re alone, we hear only the vacuum, the emptiness is just as empty as it ever was; we hear only one question, “Why am I here?” We realize that our existence is incomplete—that something is missing—and we’re longing for something or someone to complete us.
But we must go deeper than the surface level in order to satisfy our emptiness. You’ve probably heard of the phrase “unconditional love,” right? Unconditional love is love without conditions. Through sickness and health, poverty or pain, your spouse is to love you. Even when you’re ugly, you’re partner is to put no conditions on his love for you.
I want to introduce the idea of “unconditional meaning.” Unconditional meaning is meaning without conditions. No matter what you’re going through, you have meaning in your life. The meaning in your life is not conditioned upon your circumstances or experiences. It supersedes conditions. It’s meaning that can be found in sickness and in health, in suffering and in prosperity.
The trouble with Jerry Maguire is that he was finding completion in a conditional relationship. His being “completed” is dependant upon Dorothy’s existence. Were she to leave (through death or divorce), the plug would be pulled on his life. The meaning would drain from it and, once again, he would be incomplete.
Our souls are not searching for conditional completion, but unconditional. Only unconditional meaning will be able to fill the empty space in our souls. Jesus Christ is the source of our unconditional meaning. To him we must look and say, “You complete me.” How is it that Jesus can do this but no one else can? Jesus was both fully God and fully human. Thus he brings to our souls the infinite satisfaction of man’s pursuit of God. He brings to us not only a complete identification with our emptiness, but also the complete power to fill us.
The way to find meaning in your life is to find him. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). This is the paradox of meaning. To find your meaning, you must not look for it; you must only look for him.
© Samuel Kee, 2012