Now there were a few years when I forgot about my experience as a young girl. I tried to run away from God and engaged in an extracurricular activity better known as partying like a rock star. I kissed too many boys and drank too much beer and enjoyed a thoroughly hollow good time, but deep down inside, I knew that partying wasn’t the life for me. I returned to the routine I had learned at eight years old and began reading my Bible again.

More than a decade later, I still want to know God. The desire hasn’t cooled. At times I have allowed myself to be overpowered by other desires. Busyness. Lesser loves. Laziness. And the temptation to let someone else do all the hard work of digging into the rich reservoirs of Scripture.

All too often I find myself tempted to live a distracted life. You know the kind—the one where within the busyness of life you still manage to perform the stand-up, sit-down, clap, clap, clap of regular church attendance, drop a check in the offering plate, hope for a new nugget of knowledge, understanding, or insight in the weekly sermon, and check off a random, albeit short, list of acts of kindness to others. Somehow I’m supposed to feel like I’m living the Jesus-driven life.

I don’t.

That’s when the hunger appears in my belly and overtakes my soul, grumbling that there must be more. Even in the mundane, I find myself wanting more of God. Surely I’m not the only person who lies in bed at night wondering, Is this all there is? I can’t be the only one who looks at the seemingly rich buffet of everything this world has to offer and loses my appetite, because even with countless provisions, friends, and activities—many of which are not only good but could be classified as godly—I can’t shake this sense that there’s more.

The hunger growls that there’s more of God not only to uncover but to discover.

The hunger cries out that there’s more of this God-infused life to live.

The hunger reminds me that there’s more.

I want to go there. But how do I find the way?

When I reflect on my life map so far, I realize that spiritual hunger, the enablement to love and long for a relationship with our Creator, is not just God’s greatest command—it is also his greatest gift. It’s the kind of desire that compelled the psalmist not only to ask, “Whom have I in heaven but you?” but to answer, “Earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

That’s why I began praying for spiritual hunger and haven’t stopped. As my prayers funnel toward heaven, I can’t help but reflect on my own spiritual journey and wonder how much of God I really know and how much of God I simply take other people’s word for or dismiss altogether. If God is bighearted, then why am I tempted to live with a closed hand? If God is surprisingly talkative, then why don’t I take more time to listen? If God is deeply mysterious, then why do I sometimes lose the intrigue?

In the quietness of my own soul, I cannot help but wonder, How much of God do I really know?

If we met on the street, would I even recognize him?

In the humility of honesty and a soul laid bare: I do not know.

Such realizations shake the core of who I am. I’m pointedly reminded of the day an older woman I barely knew asked if my mother was Jewish when she heard my last name.

“No, just my father,” I explained.

“Well, then you’re not Jewish,” she replied. “To be Jewish, your mom must be Jewish.”

I was taken aback. I had a Jewish father, a Jewish grandmother who escaped Poland at the onset of World War II, and I knew how to make a mean bowl of matza ball soup. Even my best friend was Jewish. What more did you have to do to be a half-Jew?

It turned out that the nosy woman was right. Orthodox Judaism embraces matrilineal descent, or the belief that a child’s Jewish identity is passed down through the mother. Only recently has the reformed movement within Judaism embraced patrilineal descent. Regardless, they still require that the child be raised Jewish—which I was not.