To The Girl Who Feels Empty
Empty me out, fill me with you. Lord there is nothing I can give to you. I lay down my life, here at your feet. You give me life so completely.
Imagine a bunch of college students in a beautiful chapel singing these words to a jazzy beat, laughing and dancing as they do so. It doesn’t quite make sense, does it? Joyfully dancing as we sing the words “empty me out”? As I found myself doing this while singing these words at my school’s Sunday night Gathering service, I was struck by the irony of it all. Let me explain.
Not too long ago I found myself in a really good season, feeling pretty much on top of the world. I knew that wind and waves were on the horizon, coming in the form of people I love moving away and tides changing in other areas of my life. I planned on just pushing through and keeping a smile on my face, telling myself, "Well, you’ll just really have to depend on God," not really understanding the implications of that. Friends, I am so glad that God has mercy for me in that his ways are higher and his plans are better than my own.
Here’s what really happened: the wind and the waves that were on the horizon surely came, and with them brought even more, stronger winds and waves that I was not expecting and… I broke. Yep. Someone would ask me how I was doing and I’d have to decide to lie and say “good” or be honest and say “I feel like I’m falling to pieces” and then probably start crying in the dining hall or coffee shop or even class. I bet you guess which option I chose most of the time.
In the breaking down, in the losing some things I loved, came bitterness, hurt, loneliness, confusion, and…emptiness. What a dreadful word, huh? Empty- indicating a void, a lack, something missing. I found myself feeling empty because I felt like my upbeat spirit, the people that brought me joy, and having things “figured out” (whatever that even means) were gone. Taken from me. Maybe you’ve been here too, friend. It’s heavy, isn’t it?
I’m finding that when there’s empty space in our lives where there wasn’t before, we’re tempted to fill it with things that might make us happy, such as Netflix, food, people, buying things, trips, working out, busyness etc.- basically anything that numbs us, anything that keeps us from truly running to God with feelings of emptiness. These things can be healthy when used correctly for their purposes- but none of them have the true purpose of filling our souls, like I think we secretly hope they might.
God is the only one capable of truly filling our needy souls. However, I think it’s hard for Him to do that when, like I said, we allow other, earthly things to take his role of filling us- leaving us with a fulfillment that is false and easily shaken by wind and waves. And so he allows us to be emptied out- to be stripped of the things that we thought kept us safe, kept us happy, kept us feeling good and “fulfilled”. He allows us to be emptied so that he can truly fill us. So he can fill us with true peace, true security, true joy, and true fulfillment- all coming fully from Him. He longs to show us that he is enough, that he is truly all we need.
Being emptied can be so painful, and maybe you’re asking, “How long, Lord? How long will I feel this lack, how long until you fill me with your true fullness?” Friend, though you may not feel him, the Lord is so near to you, hearing your every cry and catching your every frustrated tear in his hands. He does not want you to stay here, feeling empty, but rather longs for you to boldly approach him with your emptiness, because wow, He longs, desperately yearns, to fill you. I don’t have the answers, I don’t have the secret formula to get from A to B, but the Lord knows what we need, and he has provided some AWESOME scripture for us to find direction and wisdom in. In his Word He tells us to…
Rest in his sufficient grace, rather than striving to make the situation go away
Accept (and even boast in) our weakness
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Ask, Seek, Knock
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10
Fix our eyes on Him
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Wait for Him
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18
So going back to that strange, jazzy song I heard at my school’s chapel service- it seemed almost unfitting to me at first to dance to the words “empty me out” since being emptied out can be so very painful. But doesn’t being emptied out actually give us great reason to dance? If we’re being emptied out, it means that God has plans to fill us with something so much greater- with Himself and the fullness of who He is, with fulfillment found in Him that cannot be shaken by wind and waves. This is the ultimate promise and ultimate reason to rejoice- to sing “Empty me out, fill me with you… You and You alone Lord, the One who is truly all I need, and more.”
I ask that you be with my sisters who are struggling with emptiness right now, whose circumstances have led them to be emptied. God, please help them to not deny these feelings or run to other things to numb them, but rather boldly approach your throne with them, with full assurance that you have mercy and grace in this time of pain. Help them to not feel defeated but rather to wait for you with hope in who you are and in your plans to fill them with ALL of your fullness. Father, wrap my sisters up in your overwhelming presence that fills and makes whole. Help them to rejoice in the truth that you don’t leave emptiness unfilled- that you take emptiness and replace it with true, lasting fulfillment. Thank you for all you have planned that we know nothing of yet. You are a GOOD God, and we love you SO much. I ask all these things in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Erin // @erin_mccallum