When You Just Need To Be Empty

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Maybe the holes we feel in our lives aren’t all supposed to be filled.Let them sit there a while and ache. Let them sit there a while and speak. Maybe they’ve got something to say. — Beth Moore

This week I was supposed to be really productive. It was the second week of the Easter holidays and I had purposely left my calendar free to get on with some writing projects.

Then my laptop broke.

I took it in to be repaired and came back home to a blank calendar. I felt slightly adrift in the time and space that was now suddenly empty. It was frustrating and uncomfortable. There was no work to fill up the hours, no Netflix to binge or social media to flit around on. There was just me and my empty space to try and fill.

We spend so much of our time trying to find ways to fill the gaps in our lives. We have bought into the idea that we’re somehow not okay, not enough as we are. So we spend money on all kinds of things to make ourselves look or feel better. We spend time chasing affirmation for ourselves and our opinions on social media. We work harder and harder to prove we are worth something. We feel the tug and pull of things that promise to give us life, promise to fill up all the empty places inside of us.

But what if, as Beth Moore suggests, those empty places might be important? What if the holes we’re feeling might have something to say to us?

What if we turned off our phones, put down our work and sat with the silence for a few minutes?

Can you even imagine what that would be like?

Often, we assume we don’t have time to be still. We’re tired and busy and overwhelmed. But I think the truth is that we surround ourselves with noise and keep ourselves constantly occupied because we’re scared of finding ourselves alone with our thoughts. Once we get quiet enough, we might have to acknowledge the pain we’d prefer to forget, or the reality that life is different from what we’d hoped for. We might have to admit the ways we’ve made mistakes or handled things badly. We might have to feel the ache of all the emptiness we’ve carried for so long.

But what if we took a deep breath, gathered all our courage, and sat with those thoughts and feelings for little while longer? What if we waited out the discomfort and the awkwardness? What if something good and life-affirming emerges from the silence?

***

In the Bible there is a story about a man called Elijah. He’s had a tough season, so he goes out to the mountain to wait for God to speak. A violent wind comes along, then an earthquake, then a fire, but God’s voice is not in any of those things. His voice comes out of the silence, a still small whisper.

Sometimes we need to let ourselves feel the emptiness. We need to let the distractions be blown away, burned up or shaken off. We need to get still and quiet long enough to hear the Trinity whispering to us: you’re accepted, you belong, you’re enough. You’re completely loved, exactly as you are.