Embracing Emptiness

Yesterday, I decided to buy Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand GiftsThis decision was an act of desperation; one spurred by five days of post wedding blues. You know the kind, those uncomfortable times of silence and soul ache that occur after being surrounded by family and friends in a festive atmosphere. Yesterday, my mother mentioned how much our cousin was enjoying Ann’s book. “Donna said that she reads a few pages and then sets in down and cries.” Those must be good tears. I hoped. Maybe even tears that wash away loneliness of soul. So last night, I bought the book at Barnes and Nobles and brought it home. This morning I finger the soft crème pages and notice how the content comes quickly. No introduction but just an acknowledgement:

“For the Farmer,

who tended and grew my soul.”

The page blurs, even though I haven’t yet read enough to put the book down and cry. I find myself hoping the Farmer will grow my soul, if I embrace this indescribable emptiness and longing I feel inside. I turn the page.

Chapter 1

an emptier, fuller life

“Every sin is an attempt to fly from emptiness.”

Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

The quote stops me from reading further. I decide I must spend a lifetime pondering these words. The lens through which I see those times of separation from my Savior changes color to an iridescent blue, the kind of blue you see when gazing into your reflection in a crisp mountain stream. My heart quickens and my mind swirls. A couple of days ago, I finished a mixed media piece that today I loathe. The end product agitates me for many reasons. My initial message morphed into how I really felt and I didn’t like it. I began with this: Sweet peace awaken the dawn And shake dew off my folded feathers Readied for flight But I wasn’t ready for flight. I wanted to soar, but my soul felt bottled up, contained, forced to sit in emptiness. I found myself fashioning the bird into a bottle. It was as if someone kept turning up the heat until my desperation boiled. I wanted to shatter the bottle and escape, but I couldn’t.
Then this morning I read Simone Weil’s quote, “Every sin is an attempt to fly from emptiness,” and my bottled-up soul finally forms feelings into words: A fast of five days Depression not of my choosing Drives me deeper into Him In search of relief from my pain Wings of soul once batting the inside of the bottle now calm. I sit and embrace the burn, the emptiness, the hollowness of soul. I read a few more pages of Ann’s book, set the open pages face down, and weep. Embracing emptiness isn’t easy. Embracing emptiness shakes you to your core, forces you to sit in the darkness of abandonment until his light shines: The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. If you embrace the emptiness and wait for grace, God’s promises from Isaiah 9 will be yours: You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. So many promises come to those who trust in God’s faithfulness to fill their empty places of heart and soul:
  • The light of the Lord’s presence
  • Gladness of heart
  • The yoke of burdens broken
  • The peace and wisdom of God
You see, it’s so worth it to embrace the emptiness, even though the despair blankets with unbearable depression. I’ve experienced this cycle of emptiness, despair, and infilling time and time again. I can testify to you that God is faithful if you are willing to wait for his goodness to come!

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