When We Feel Empty

It wasn’t even a full three days since I posted “Singleness is NOT a Punishment!” when my dear, sweet friend sent me this through Facebook message:

princess_warrior

If you have ever seen this or something like this, I want to just help erase any of the damage that it may have done to your heart.

warrior

First of all, who else saw Xena the Warrior Princess when you first starting reading that? Ha! But I digress. Let’s respond to the letter from the anonymous internet person to the Princess Warrior. (Which is supposed to be a letter from God the Father to me, His beloved daughter.)

First of all, I look nothing like sexy Xena the Warrior Princess nor do I feel like her, even though I do know I am a daughter of the King and in His army.  Second of all, I would have to honestly say that, for the most part, I desire the approval of God alone. When I was young I sought the approval of my parents and my teachers and now that I’m an adult I seek the approval of my boss. There is a certain crush of mine who I highly admire and respect and from time to time I will find myself desiring his approval but it’s only because I hold him in such high regard. I don’t think validation should come from anywhere but from above as we are complete in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9-10) but I don’t think the desire to feel accepted and supported is wrong. In fact, that’s not only normal but God designed it that way. Allow me to explain:

The letter goes on to say, “I designed you to desire Me and Me alone.”

I challenge you to find a passage in the Bible that says that. You will be hard-pressed to find such a verse because I guarentee it is not there.

Have you ever been in a crowded room, yet felt completely isolated? It’s not a good feeling at all, is it? Loneliness has never been part of God’s plan for his children. After all, in the beginning when God created the Heavens, the earth, the water, trees, flowers, birds, fish, and animals, He looked over each day of creation and declared it to be good. However, upon creating man, God stopped and for the very first time declared something as “not good.” He said, “It is NOT GOOD that man should be alone.”

Adam had God by his side and yet God still said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Not until after God created Eve did God say, “…and it was VERY good.” All this is to say that we need each other and to deny that is to deny God’s design. Yes, we were designed to desire God, but He also designed us to yearn for a helpmate in life. We are sexual beings and our bodies are naturally created with a longing to be intimate and to be fruitful and multiply. Is it a sin that we desire these things? NO!

Some Christians might tell you that desiring sex is a sin but that is not biblical. The distinction comes from the OBJECT of our desire. If our desires are fixating on something evil (i.e. adultery, fornication, etc) then the desire itself is evil (Matthew 5:28, Matthew 15:19, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20). If our desire fixates on something good (i.e. marriage, companionship) then the desire itself is good (Proverbs 5:18-19, Song of Solomon 2:5-7, Proverbs 18:22, Ephesians 5:28). Sexual desire is wholesome, honorable, and right when it is enjoyed within the boundaries of holy matrimony.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” -Philippians 4:8

We have become a generation with a distorted view of marriage.  When we try to convince singles that we shouldn’t desire sexual intimacy or that longing for marriage is somehow unholy then we are giving Satan the credit for God’s beautiful design.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Psalm 37:4 is NOT an equation.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:4

If Psalm 37:4 were an equation, then I’m pretty sure I would have a husband and children by now. Don’t believe for one second that if you’re still waiting on the Lord for this blessing that you must not be doing something you’re supposed to be doing.  Though it certainly feels like a curse, singleness is very much a blessing.  I know that it hurts, especially when you’re lying awake at night in your empty bed with nothing but pillows to squeeze for comfort.

Now let’s take a look at another passage in the letter:

“When you choose to live for Me, you will never again be thirsty for attention…”

Is that really true? What kind of a message does that send to people who struggle with depression? With aching emptiness and longing? With grief and loss associated with divorce? Just because we’ve given our lives to Jesus and chosen to live for Him doesn’t mean that we don’t still struggle with the pain of an empty womb or the longing to share our lives with a companion by our side. Telling a woman that she’ll never thirst for attention if she chooses to live for God… Do you see how that could be detrimental to her spirit? “Oh, I am still thirsty for love and affection…” She thinks. “I must not be fully living for God.” 

In the wise words of one of my favorite authors Alyssa Joy Bethke: “God is good and everything that happens is for our good. Not necessarily for our happiness but for our holiness. God’s goal is to make us more like His son, and often that involves trials and pain. But those difficulties are opportunities to rely on our Savior, to run into His arms, to nestle ourselves in His embrace and to walk with Him.”

Emptiness is that feeling left over after you give something your absolute all and it still doesn’t turn out the way you worked so hard for it to. You’re exhausted of energy, depleated of hope, and disappointed that it didn’t work out. Perhaps you have some unfulfilled dreams or a place in your heart that aches because your beloved didn’t return your love. Perhaps, like me, you fought hard to save your marriage and did everything possible to redeem it but it still fell apart in your hands.

God’s Word offers some promises to combat the emptiness and find fulfillment in Christ.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” – Psalm 81:10

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

“I ask God from the wealth of His glory to give you power through His Spirit to be strong in your inner selves,  and I pray that Christ will make His home in your hearts through faith as you open the door and invite Him in.  I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love—although it can never be fully known—and be so completely filled with the very nature of God.” -Ephesians 3:16-19

Just because we’ve completely given our lives to God doesn’t mean the longings He’s plsb10065339i-001aced there will completely go away. I believe they are from Him and they aren’t sinful. I mean, not all of us are called to be nuns!!! On the plane home from my sister’s wedding last weeekend I saw a nun. I immediately was drawn to her because of her calm, elegant beauty and of course the curiousity of what made her decide to live under the vows of poverty and chastity but especially the latter. Perhaps she doesn’t have those desires? I can’t imagine not having those desires. If she DOES have those desires then I applaud her for her strength and uncompromising commitment to purity.  She is SO KICK-BUTT! Wish I would have had the courage to ask her my questions. Again, I digress.

It’s healthy to recognize that sometimes the longings we feel aren’t for anything Earth can provide. Psalmist cries out to God, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1). Just like the Samaritan woman at the well who thirsted for Living Water, God put a longing in our heart that was intended to lead us back to Him. There is an emptiness that ONLY HE can fill. There is a deep thirst that ONLY HE can quench. If His love doesn’t fill you up, then nothing else will.

“Now let me ask you again, My beloved daughter: Whom do you seek?”

If you’re like me, you’re COMPLETELY honest with yourself and if your desires are the same as mine then you’re seeking a husband. The Bible says, But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” -Matthew 6:33. It never says it’s wrong to seek a husband, but make sure God is first in your heart.

As for me, I’m allowing God to use this loneliness and emptiness to teach me what it means to depend upon His strength and love every day. I know that having a husband won’t satisfy the craving that only God can fill. When you allow yourself to be controlled by Christ’s love you have the indwelling of God’s presence and are closer to unity and maturity. I don’t think we can ever experience the whole measure of the perfection that is found in Christ (Ephesians 4:13) this side of Heaven, but I do believe we can experience joy and fullness here on Earth. I pray this for us both, dear reader, that we would be filled with His love and be content in our single season.

Advertisements

There is Power in Vulnerability

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

Our insecurities stem from our sense of self value: Do I belong? Am I worthy? If others knew the real me, would they still like me?

What is the remedy to this fear and shame of being our authentic selves? Vulnerability. 

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis

To put yourself out there with arms wide open, ready to embrace the world, is a huge risk because it opens ourselves up to the possibilitiy of disappointment and rejection. But being vulnerable isn’t weak. It is courageous. When we allow ourselves to be seen in our entirety we allow others to accept us and love us for who we truly are. When you let your fear keep you from experiencing vulnerability, you rob yourself of joy and love and depth in your relationships with others.

Being yourself means declaring and affirming who God made you to be and knowing that in Him you are beautiful, precious, and important.

“A woman of beauty is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough. She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that He finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy, and in Him, she is enough.”
― Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul

Letting others see us to the full breadth and width of ourselves is to love with our whole heart. There is no guarentee you won’t be hurt or ridiculed or embarressed, but it is the only way to love passionately and fiercely and the only way to live completely alive! The reward is the deepest kind of unconditional love.

02vulnerable

This post was inspired by someone in my life who keeps me on a yo-yo string. He doesn’t know if he wants to date me or not and he’s afraid of letting me into his hidden places because he’s afraid I won’t like what I see. Our on-again-off-again relationship has exhausted me to my core and today I had to tell him, “NO. I can’t even be your friend anymore because I’ve allowed you to put my heart through the wringer for the last time. You need to sit down and figure out exactly what you want and then you need to boldly go after it with your whole heart. Otherwise, you will never find true love.”

01knowing

The key to finding what you want is knowing what you want… Be intentional! Set goals! Work hard to reach them! And when you’ve finally received what you were looking for… you VALUE IT. You thank God for it and you never let it go.

It hurts to be vulnerable, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because to be honest with myself and others about my needs and desires is the only way to receive them.

Beauty, Loneliness, & Eternity

I never feel more lonely than when I’m surrounded by absolute breathtaking beauty such as gazing at the sunset over the Sonoran Desert from the top Mount Lemmon. Beauty has a way of reminding us of the Eden that we have never known but somehow always knew we were meant for.

“Every experience of beauty points to eternity.”

-Hans Urs von Balthasar

I know it’s not as lovely as hearing it in person, but if you’ve never heard the haunting, melancholy wail of a loon, please listen to this video clip.

Laying awake at night in the cabin on Bear Lake in Waterford, Maine where I spent every summer with my family, I would be startled by this long, wistful howl that awakened a mournful longing within me. Sometimes the beauty was so great it stirred me to tears and made me feel desperately lonely.

A deep pang of painful yearning similar to my experience in Maine has been pulling on my heartstrings as of late. I could not name the empty place inside me until I picked up the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, a birthday present from my sister.

“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”

-Ann Voskamp

Yes, this is exactly what I’ve been feeling. Instead of being thankful for all I’ve been blessed with, I start to believe the serpent’s hissing lie whispering in my ear that God must not love me enough because He’s withholding good things from me. I try to fill the emptiness by putting on my dancing shoes as often as possible, devouring poetry, and crafting pretty things but always, always I feel the ache.

It’s not really my fault though, is it? The gaping hole in my soul will always be there until I am restored to glory and present with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We were never meant for this dark, lonely world. We were created for a loving relationship with God.

Strangely enough, there is one person with whom I feel at peace. One person who makes the hole seem less cavernous. When I am in his presence, the hollowness melts away and I feel safe and able to rest. His company is inviting, nourishing, and comforting. I never want to say “good bye” but I am not allowed to be with him forever. It seems unfair that God would tease me with everything I’ve always wanted so close I could touch it but hold it just out of my grasp.

I think the grief I feel over this is natural and healthy. The sadness I feel because I am alone is due to living in a sinful, broken world where people don’t keep their vows and abandon their spouses. The sadness I feel because I am unwanted and rejected means I know my worth.

The wound of grief says, “This is not the way life is supposed to be. You were created to be dearly loved and cherished. You were never meant to be alone.” And the beauty in the world points me to hope. The loon’s cry sings, “There is still beauty in this lonely world.” It is an echo of what once was before sin spoiled its perfection. It is a mere shadow of the glorious beauty that will one day be revealed to us when Christ returns for His bride.

I am looking forward to that marvelous day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Walking around today in the beautiful weather with my new cowgirl boots and haircut… I felt like a new woman. Today was absolutely splendid spectacular and I am feeling so blessed and loved.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I have some friends who are definitely going to find out just how much their friendship has meant to me, especially during the most difficult year of my life.

Rose

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the people who stood by me and helped me through this difficult time of my life. I love love love you sooooooooooooo much!

Speaking of my friends, I am friends with three married couples who are going through the worst kind of trial imaginable right now. In all three cases there are young children involved and in all three cases it was the wife that cheated on the husband. I feel as though the Lord is using my heartache to reach out to these young couples and encourage them in any way I am able. I am much better at expressing my thoughts through writing and I never truly know just what to say when they call, but sometimes I think the Lord speaks through me. I find myself saying things like, “You can either go through this or grow through this.” // “Stop. Breathe. Be still and know that He is LORD.” // “Remember that He is in complete control of this situation and He will not let you experience more than you can handle.” // “You cannot change the past but you can forgive and forget. Forgiving doesn’t mean you’re okay with what happened, but that you will no longer harbor anger, resentment, and bitterness in your heart. Live in the present, taking it one day at a time. Focus on the small tasks at hand that need to get done and dwell on positive, praiseworthy things.”

I wasn’t always able to shell out advice so easily. Only a few months ago I was a complete train wreck myself experiencing mental breakdowns at least once a week. I didn’t feel whole without my husband’s love and commitment. I was in utter shock, incapable of thinking clearly or doing much of anything productive. I refused to accept the reality of what was happening, choosing to believe that it would all eventually go away like waking up from a bad dream. I kept feeling like I was this shameful failure at life. A loser. A leper. The worst kind of sinner… a woman headed towards the long, lonely road of divorce. Oh, “if only, if only,” I cried so many nights. (Which is SO unhealthy by the way!) No matter how relieved I was to be extricated from my intolerable state of affairs, I was still utterly heartbroken and kept reliving all my lovely memories and the beautiful hopes of what was supposed to someday be.

I felt massive insecurity, helplessness, and instability. I was in tremendous upheaval calling up my loved ones and family so much when I was crying hysterically that a few of them needed breaks and asked me to stop calling so much. I felt like something was wrong with me because I wasn’t getting better and I was distancing my friends in the process. Everything in my life was topsy-turvy. I was getting sick and was freaking out about the bills that had to be paid. But the Lord provided and I was able to keep going… even though at times it felt like I was going one step forward and two steps back.

1 Forward, 2 Back

One step forward and two steps back…

In the early stages of marital separation, it is imperative that you lean on your support group for balance, otherwise you may not be able to stand on your own two feet. It’s so easy to curl up in a ball and shut out the world. Depression can be a comforting friend that we cradle and embrace and drink tea with on the porch. It’s all we know and it’s easier than pulling ourselves out of it and trying to feel something else. But there comes a time that you’ve got to woman-up and reassert yourself as a functioning, responsible adult who can take care of herself. There were times that my own sister was so worried for me because I could not act in a rational manner and seemed completely unable to cope emotionally. When she called me all excited to tell me her wedding date I just panicked because I thought she was getting married too soon and I guess I just projected my own fears and insecurity onto her upcoming nuptials. Instead of showering my affection on her and displaying my overwhelming joy for her engagement, I pushed her away a little bit. That day was the wake up call that showed me I have a lot of growing to do in the area of emotional healing and I better start lickity split. I HATE being in pain! (Especially when those close to me are rejoicing.) “There is a time to mourn and a time to dance,” the wise king says in Ecclesiastes 3. If I couldn’t celebrate with my beloved sister when it was time to rejoice, then I had serious issues. I decided I needed a spiritual makeover. I had to rebuild my self-confidence and remind myself who I am in Christ. I am a Princess of the One, true King and I am precious in His sight. He is mine and I am His.

I had a song in my heart as I walked in the sunshine to the bus stop today to get from my first job to my second job. I was so cheerful that even the attitude of one particular co-worker did not get me down. (For some reason, she has always enjoyed picking on me since day one and we simply don’t get along.) This is the song I was singing:

Who can cheer the heart like Jesus
By His presence all divine?
True and tender, pure and precious
O, how blest to call Him mine!

All that thrills my soul is Jesus
He is more than life to me
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see

For passels of days, I can feel exactly the same. Not any more sad than yesterday but not any more content today. It’s as though healing came by for a visit but didn’t stay long enough for a cup of tea. There is no timetable for grief. There are some weeks where all I can think about is my husband and how much I still love him so dearly. My faithfulness can be a curse because it will not let me let him go so I can finish grieving and move on. Separation feels worse than death because there is no finality and closure as when someone dies. At least if he died I could have a funeral and all my friends and family could come and we’d grieve his loss together and then bury the coffin and walk away. Yes, I am still mourning him and it happens whenever I think of a fond memory- something he said or did that was so precious and endearing that I just cradle that memory and rock it for a moment too long and it breaks me up inside. For instance, just the other day, I was remembering this one time that he baked me up some wicked pistachio whoopie pies. I loved when it was his turn to cook for us; he was always making such yummy things to fill me up with.

Pistachio Whoopie Pies

Pistachio Whoopie Pies

There’s nothing wrong with cherishing old memories but when I dwell on them too long it breaks me down and I miss him so bad. I want to call him and talk to him and tell him how much I miss him, but I have to remind myself that the person who picks up the phone when I call won’t be my husband, it will be the stranger he has become.

There are so many things I miss about him but one thing I really miss is being the most beautiful woman in the world to one special someone. I REALLY miss that. I miss being absolutely perfectly beautiful in the eyes of one man. For some reason I’ve been extra conscious about my looks lately. Someone once said that a woman thinks about her looks every seven seconds. I don’t think that’s necessarily true (at least not for me, but it’s crazy to think about if it is true for someone out there!) I know I have been more self-conscious than I’ve ever been about my pimples and skinniness and small chest etc. I literally believed my husband was the most handsome man in the world. I COULD NOT see the attractiveness of any other man no matter what anyone said about “that hot guy over there.” I simply only had eyes for MY man. When I saw him for the first time in 8 months a few weeks ago…. I was surprised to find myself looking into the eyes of a stranger. This was not my husband! Who was this thin Kurt Cobain doppelganger? I had to sit on my hands so as not to run my hand through his sexy hair… but other than that, I no longer felt he was the most handsome man in the world and that scared me. It really, really scared me. What does this mean?

Okay, so I have this cavernous wound that I can’t seem to get over. When will I truly surrender my pain to Christ? Oh Jesus, fill my emptiness and make me whole. Teach me to fully rely on You alone. I want to know You as my Husband, my Best Friend, and my One True Love. Jesus, You are everything I need and You were madly in love with me before I even knew You. Be my Valentine tomorrow and fill my heart with Your unfailing love. I feel like a little vulnerable girl who wants to crawl into Your lap and cry. Fill me, Jesus. You are the only One who knows and sees and fully understands. You are my Healer. Help me to remember when I feel rejected that no one else knows better than You just how I feel.

Image
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

-Galations 6:9