We Can’t Give from an Empty Place {Finding Fullness Again}

{image: oly5 / 123RF Stock Photo}

{image: oly5 / 123RF Stock Photo}

Ever feel so tired you’re pretty sure a 4-year nap wouldn’t cure the weariness?

With a book launch this month and all the usual responsibilities to keep, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to steer clear of that kind of weariness. The other morning, while loading up my crock pot (the only way my family eats dinners that don’t consist of cereal and milk) it suddenly hit me: we get weary when we live like a sieve, not a cup.

Nowhere in the list of ingredients for my stew were instructions to add 1 sieve of chicken broth, or a 1/2 sieve of cumin. Not a single one. Because sieves don’t hold onto the goodness we want to put into foods.

When we live like a sieve, we aren’t adding to the goodness we want to put into our lives either. It’s so easy to wake up, hit the ground running, work hard, love people, and not even realize how depleted we are until the tension in our neck knocks us on the couch for a forced time-out after dinner.

We might

  • read a devotional and, while the words hang fresh in our minds, jump on Facebook to encourage others with it.
  • listen to inspirational music and, instead of letting ourselves linger in worship, send a link for the song to our spouse to encourage them.
  • listen to a sermon and take notes about the part we want to share with our teen because it totally applies to what she’s facing with a friend!

In Psalm 23:5, that most famous chapter for the weary, battered seasons in life, David says, “You [God] prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (italics mine).

Did we catch that? The part where God fills David to the point where he overflows. . . even in seasons where enemies abound and weariness encroaches? This liquid life from God fills David first, and is so abundant it overflows into the lives of others.

Where, in all our own sieve-like living does the filling of us happen? How did we come to a place as believers where not only is it more blessed to give than to receive, it’s only blessed when we give?

Sara Hagerty, author of Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet (which I’m soaking up like a sponge) admits her own moment of realization that she’d become a sieve-believer:

“God was big enough for me to pattern my time into telling others about Him, but not real enough for me to find any delight in Him.” – Sara Hagerty

When we live like a sieve, we find ourselves right in that same place.

How much good do we think we’re sharing with the world when all we have to give is the trace of life clinging to the mesh of who we’ve become?

Almost a year ago I began to realize I’d become a sieve. Maybe that’s why my One Word for 2014 needed to be, simply, “loved.” Loved is a cup-like word. A word that gives permission to be valued and adored and worth something without immediately doing anything about it. I found myself uncomfortable just receiving. I wanted to jump on Twitter and tell everyone about each verse that piqued my interest and admiration for God.

But there was this stern inner voice that I couldn’t ignore. It whispered, “This one is just for you.” (Which is a very very hard thing for an extrovert whose #1 strength is the desire to make a difference in the world! And who loves to write!).

I had no idea how to be a cup. But day by a day, as I read scripture or listened to inspirational songs—receiving words that maybe someday I’ll use to love others, but right then were meant for me alone—the fuller I felt. And the more energized, too. In fact, there started to be enough energy to do what so often feels exhausting as a woman, wife, friend and mom.

More than enough. . . an overflow.

There’s plenty more to go around when it comes to the God who fed thousands with a few loaves of bread, friend.

Will you trust that? Lean into it? Believe God wants fullness for you today?


P.S. If part of the emptying in your life comes through parenting a special needs child, we’re giving away 15 copies of my new book, Get Your Joy Back, at Goodreads. Enter to win a copy here before January 27th!