“There’s still something missing.”

During the past year, German golfer Martin Kaymer has won the PGA Championship and become the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world. He has summited a mountain few have been able to climb to the top of.

And yet, in a recent Golf magazine article, Kaymer confessed: “I don’t know what I have to do to be really happy and really satisfied with everything I’ve done. Everything I’ve achieved is great and nobody would have expected it. But there’s still something missing and I don’t know what it is, what I have to win, what I have to do more.

“There’s still something missing.”

Kaymer’s candor is refreshing and honest. He’s saying what many have felt who have reached the top of their profession or achieved their dreams of success. Highly successful people tend to be single-minded in pursuit of their goals. They sacrifice a lot to get to the top. But vertigo sets in once they’re there.

They feel disoriented. They feel unfulfilled. They feel lost.

What happens next is crucial. Because they haven’t developed a spiritual life along the way, they try to fill emptiness with things that only lead to downfall.

Witness Tiger Woods: They change houses. They change spouses. They get more expensive toys to amuse them. And they find themselves emptier than before, because something is still missing.

The French physicist, mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal put it well: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator.”

St. Augustine put it another way in his prayer: “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

I spent a few days at the Mt. Angel Monastery in Oregon last month. The Benedictine brothers devote themselves to praise and prayer. They welcome every guest as if Christ himself were visiting. Father Pius said to me that even God cannot enter a heart that is already full of other things.

It seems that the first duty of creatures is to make room for God in our lives by expelling all those ambitions and idols that have come to live within us and control us. As long as they are there, we are still missing something. When they are put in their rightful place and God is allowed to enter, we are filled to the full with all that makes for happiness.

It’s not a one-time decision, though. It takes discipline and attention to keep God first in our lives. Other things will always try to compete for god-like status.

And so we need to praise God for the good gifts that are ours all the time that we don’t have to work for. When Kaymer wonders what else he might have to do in order to find happiness, the answer is nothing.

Happiness is not the product of our doing; it’s the receiving of what God has already done for us. Happiness comes from knowing that success and failure, possessions and status may come and go but do not change one bit the truth, goodness and beauty that is available to us all by God’s generous hand.

We are missing nothing. When we praise God for the gift of these things, we are free from trying to pursue them and we are free to enjoy them.

Prayer then is the discipline of enlisting God’s aid in keeping our hearts from seeking the wrong things. We are able to give ourselves over in complete trust that whether we are No. 1 or No. 1,001, we are completely beloved children of our heavenly Father. Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Happiness, someone has said, is like a dog chasing his tail. As long as he chases it, he will never catch it, but if he goes his way doing what is right, it follows him everywhere.

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