Heart in the Clouds

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #7 (Emptiness)

"Empty"
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: containing nothing
Synonyms: abandoned, bare, barren, blank, clear, dead, deflated, depleted, desert, deserted, desolate, despoiled, destitute, devoid, dry, evacuated, exhausted, forsaken, godforsaken, hollow, lacking, stark, unfilled, unfurnished, uninhabited, unoccupied, vacant, vacated, vacuous, void, wanting, waste

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I have been thinking lately about emptiness. What does it mean to be empty? I was even awake last night thinking about it. I guess what has been striking me so much about the thought is that emptiness is something we fight so hard against, especially in our culture. We don’t want empty bank accounts, empty stomachs, empty schedules, empty hearts...

Why do we fight so hard against the feeling of emptiness? Why do we feel like we have to fill ourselves? In our culture, our lives are filled with noise--technology, busy activities, people who talk and talk and talk, teachings about needless doctrines, huge amounts of food, addictions, vain ambitions, closets filled with things we’ll never wear. People claw their way to the top of their career ladders, only to find that they are still empty.

The thing that I love about Jesus is that he is so opposite us. In Philippians 2:7, Paul says that Jesus “emptied Himself” (Greek - “kenoo” ) or “made Himself nothing” and took on the form of a servant. Why would He choose to empty Himself of His glory? Notice that there’s nothing in the life of Jesus that points toward following ambition, or striving to have more, or making a big deal of yourself. He wants us to be empty because our emptiness is His opportunity to live in us.

In the last couple of years, God has occasionally spoken to me with the words, “Embrace the emptiness.” Every time He speaks those words to me, the picture of an dry, cracked water pitcher comes to mind. He seems to lovingly bring this up whenever my life is busy and full and I’m feeling very self-satisfied. Each time it happens, I am reminded that I am empty on my own. He wants me to embrace being empty because then I remember that He is the only one who can truly fill me.

I am that empty, cracked water pitcher. I am flawed. I have nothing in me to give. But God is the glue that holds my cracked self together. He is the one who fills me. If I keep pouring out, He will keep filling me. Continuously emptying yourself keeps you from becoming stagnant. And embracing the fact that you are empty, but loved anyway, makes you grateful.

Gratitude has taught me to be okay with being empty. Knowing my place--the place of the prodigal son, the place of the thief on the cross next to Jesus’,  the place of the grateful leper, the place of the one sheep he left the 99 to find--has left me feeling so humbled that He would choose to fill me. I don’t really care now about being the best at things or about having the most friends or filling my closet. I don’t care about being involved in a million activities or filling my bank account. All of that is vanity because I know it leads nowhere and is a counterfeit for the truest riches. I still have my moments, and I always will, where I forget my place and I get a big head.

I need to embrace my emptiness more often. In fact, I feel like I've been in a season of embracing it. That doesn’t mean I need to take a vow of poverty, get rid of my cell phone or burn all of my secular CDs…it just means that I need to keep reminding myself of my place. I’m loved in spite of the fact that I’m barren and dark at my core. I’m loved in spite of my evil motives and my bitter grudges. God wants to use me. He wants to fill me. I don’t know why He wants to, but I’m so grateful that He does. Knowing that I'm loved anyway makes me trust Him more.

So I hope you learn to embrace being empty. Even some of the best weight-loss gurus talk about embracing emptiness and hunger instead of fighting it. Once you've come to terms with your emptiness and the things that are truly in your heart, I guarantee you will be humbled by the fact that He loves you as you are. I know that I have nothing to offer God, except my broken, barren self. He sees the good things in me that I don't see in myself, the dormant seeds, and He is the one who will bring those things out and nurture and grow them. He will do the same for you if you let Him.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #6

Today I'm grateful for...

A happy Valentine's Day. If you know me, you know I don't celebrate it, generally, but I do like to make it fun for my boys and remind them in a tiny way that they will always be in my heart. They each got their chocolates, a teddy bear and a handmade card. Then Sean took us out for lunch to their favorite place...Chick-fil-A.

Family dates. We've gotten to have a few in the last while and I have to say that it's great to be able to make memories with our kids.

Knowing that Winter is almost over.

Legos and Kung-Zhus. They go a long way when kids are grounded from TV and video games for more than a week. :)

A job for Sean.

Knowing this job is only going to last a few days. hee hee...

A job for me. Even though the bulk of the work is pretty much done for now, I have enjoyed doing something different. That's probably why Winter has gone so quickly for me.

Friends--near ones and far ones.

The U. S. of A...For all its problems and contentious issues, I love my country and I always will.

DVR.

Sunshine and the promise of warmer weather...Truthfully, I can say that this Winter hasn't been too bad for me, but I can't wait to see green again!

Flip-flops...never thought I'd be so excited to crack them out again. Let's see if we can do that this weekend!

Toenail polish. Yeah, 'nuff said.

I hope you have a wonderful day, and I hope you keep your eyes on the horizon. It's really easy to get dragged down by the day-to-day circumstances that don't seem to go our way. Don't let it grind you down. I'll try to do the same.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #5

After trying to blog a couple of times this week and after having my blogging plans thwarted by accidentally deleting or by having my computer shut down just as I’m posting, I figured I’d wait a few days. I was too annoyed.

So today I’m grateful for…

Weekends. Since we do school at home during the week, my weekends are precious to me. I love waking up on a Sunday morning and realizing that I could sit in my pajamas with my mug of coffee in my hand all day if I want to. Such a lovely feeling.

My peeps. I have the best church ever…just sayin’.

My red knitted hat. Despite the fact that it’s not Sean’s favorite, I love it. Wearing it makes me happy.

Fighting a cold. It hasn’t hit me full-force yet, thank God. It’s been a while since I’ve been sick, so I’m thankful that it’s only a little sniffle right now. A little sniffle ain’t so bad.

No snow. We’ve only had the occasional flurries this week, while the rest of the country is snowed in or frozen over. That’s a first!

A nap. I needed one today and BOY did I get one. It was one of those naps that are hard to wake up from, but I finally did. I feel much better now, even though I can't breathe well through my nose.

Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a sports town full of awesome people. I was in the store today and, even though the Super Bowl isn’t until tomorrow, SO many people were wearing their black & gold jerseys. So happy and it’s such a cool feeling to share excitement with half a million other locals. I'm also grateful for Pittsburgh football...DUH!

Wool socks. I love having toasty toes. Sean's work socks are so warm and comfy, and even though the heel of the sock is closer to my ankle than my heel, I still wear them.

Crime TV. I so enjoy sitting on my couch on Saturday evening after church and watching 48 Hours: Hard Evidence on TLC. There’s something so fascinating about crime-solving. I should have been a detective.

A good place.  I have my three fellas around me. I have great friends. I have a wonderful life. I have so much to be thankful for and I know it. Being in touch with your blessings is the best way to keep yourself in a good place. I am now always conscious of when I feel myself developing a bad attitude because it feels foreign and it just feels wrong. I’m grateful that God keeps me in check.

I hope you are able to focus on the good things. I hope that you don’t just live between the big events. I’ve been trying not to do that myself, so I want to encourage you to live as much of your life as you can, even the so-called “boring” parts. Enjoy it while it lasts because it’s all a gift from God.