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Finding Hope in Seasons Of Emptiness

As much as we might wish it otherwise, seasons of emptiness are a part of life in this world.

And so, in a time of finding myself empty and without words, I’m returning again to this word-picture that I shared almost a decade ago. May it encourage you, as it does me, in your own seasons of emptiness.

* * *

Breath rises and falls moment by moment, me scarcely aware. Inhale. Fullness. Exhale. Emptiness. In and out, again and again, receiving breath’s life-gift, releasing it in surrender.

The breath cycle happens in spirit as in body. Grace is given, received with thankfulness. A moment, a day, a season perhaps, of felt fullness, joy and peace. Excitement at what God is doing. Then it fades. Fatigue sets in. Restlessness. A fresh awareness of my own emptiness and poverty and need.

I seem to want always to feel full.

I forget that constant fullness leads to death.

Those with asthma know. Emptiness is a gift, constant fullness that against which they war. For in their illness, the problem is not receiving breath, but releasing it; not getting air in, but out. As their airways constrict, their lungs stay full. No release, no space for the next breath in. And the air within, the gift of the past, has already done its life-giving work, gracing the body with oxygen. It can give no more life but waits to be surrendered, the space emptied for another rise to fullness.

I wonder, can I learn not to fight the process of surrender? Each time the fullness wanes, can I learn to ask, “What am I being invited to release?” Can I move beyond seeing emptiness as a necessary but unpleasant preparation for fullness and learn to receive the unique gifts that emptiness offers? For it is only here that we discover ourselves loved in our poverty, our nothingness. It is here alone that we learn we are cherished not for our doing, but because by unfathomable mystery God delights in our being.

Without this gift of emptiness, there is no rising cycle to fullness, for this is the gift, the earthy, holy stuff of new creation fullness, that at our emptiest, we find ourselves embraced again by the One who delights to draw us close enough to breathe into us our next moment of fullness.


Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ramona Furst

    With a recent loss of a husband, I find this post so appropriate to where I’m ‘at’.
    And so emptiness means many things and I am relearning to lean into to the God who spoke through David. Letting God speak to me I am memorizing Ps. 116.

    1. Carolyn Watts

      Oh, Ramona, yes. There must be an especially profound emptiness after the loss of your husband. I’ve just paused to read Ps. 116 and hold you in prayer in light of it.

  2. Sue Willisford

    Thank you , Carolyn.. I so appreciate your thoughts which resonate with my soul, and the affirmation that’s it’s OK to feel empty . That it’s part of a normal cycle.
    I’m also reading Risking Rest. and often find my eyes welling up with tears as I identify with the pictures you paint. So beautifully written. Hug

    1. Carolyn Watts

      Thanks so much for sharing this, Sue. I’m so glad the words I’ve offered are resonating with your soul.

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