When my son was a small child, my grandmother used to take great pleasure in giving him battery-operated cars and trucks that ran around the room, lights flashing, sirens blaring, making all kinds of noise.

Fascinating to young children, these vehicles would take off straight ahead until crashing into a wall, at which time they would back up, turn and head off full-speed in different direction.

Have you ever noticed how we have a tendency to do the same thing? Children want the latest toy — but often, after playing with it for a while, the novelty wears off and something new comes along and takes its place. As we grow older, the stakes get higher, desires larger and toys more expensive: clothes, bikes, cars, the latest electronic device ...

Or perhaps it’s attention and validation we crave — the desire to be “cool,” accepted, glorified. Much like the battery-operated car, we run headlong in all different directions, each time with much the same result: instant gratification that eventually wanes, leaving us feeling empty. Then, like the car, we back up, turn and go in a different direction, chasing the next “fix.”

Does this sound like your life? Do you feel like you just keep “bouncing off the walls,” constantly going in different directions, always pursuing the “greatest new thing?” Are you trying to fill some vague emptiness inside only to find that nothing really quite satisfies? Chasing after worldly gratification is like that: It eventually leaves you feeling empty again.

If you feel a sense of longing for something that you just can’t quite put your finger on, like something is “missing,” you’re probably right. There’s likely an empty hole inside longing to be filled. And, surprisingly, the answer is right there within your grasp, waiting to be invited in to fill it.

Imagine a parent and a child who are separated. They long to be together, so something is not quite right until they are together again. Such it is with our Father and us: He longs to be with us and we are empty without Him. He is perfect and we are not, which separates us. But He provided a solution: He came to us in the form of His son — human, but perfect — who then made the perfect sacrifice for us, providing the missing conduit between us and the Father. All we have to do now is accept Him — invite Him into our hearts and He will fill that void with His Holy Spirit. His spirit will lead us, direct us, correct us and act as our personal advocate with the Holy Father.

Most importantly, that empty feeling will be replaced with the greatest joy you could ever imagine.

And once you begin to fully realize what has been done for us — which we don’t deserve — you’ll feel such gratitude that you’ll want to turn your whole life over to Him in return. That’s when you’ll stop bouncing off the walls.

As Survivor says in song: “The search is over. You were with me all the while.”