I used to thirst to fill and fill and fill, and maybe that was all, really, I sought after in my faith experience. The filling. Like young love, obsessed with passion and infatuation, so terrified of waking up one day in the absence of feeling. I filled up on church services, Bible studies, times of singing songs of praise with eyes closed and hands raised, prayer groups, books on faith, ministry positions, drinking more and more, as much as I could handle.
I don't know that I ever learned much about emptying, at least until I came up completely dry, drinking faith to the dregs, until there was but one drop in the bottom of the well.
Where my faith all but ended, I found Jesus, and he looked different than I had always pictured. More rugged and wild and mysterious. So familiar and unnerving and comforting and strange. So quiet, so doggedly persistent. And there, in the dark at the bottom of the well I had dug for myself, he took over with the shovel and dug a little deeper into the ground. Until he struck water once more, and it flowed back in a trickle, fresh and crisp and unfiltered. And slowly, I filled.
These days and years, I'm still learning more about emptying, how it precedes the filling.
Emptying myself of pride, of self obsession and self righteousness, of being too much or too little but never just as I am.
Emptying of judgment and stereotypes, shame and condemnation.
Emptying of bitterness, envy and insecurity.
Emptying of anger and unforgiveness and distrust.
Emptying can'ts and should's and shouldn'ts.
Emptying of the soul-parching expectations of the world, of old definitions of success and worth and performance, of the quest for approval.
Emptying of religious language that is self-serving, enforcing fences instead of building bridges, padding comfort zones of sameness.
Emptying of old beliefs that minimize the beauty of our humanity in light of our lack of divinity.
Emptying of old ways of seeing that limit sight.
Emptying, yes, I'm always emptying, you see, for I can never be fully emptied of these things. But as I empty, I make space for Jesus to fill. As I empty, I see that as endless as this bottomless pit of myself may seem, the space he fills stretches deeper. He is the endless one and in him, and only him, is where I find my emptying and filling, my ending and my beginning.
Joining Five-minute Friday today, the first week of being hosted by Kate Motaung. The prompt today is "Fill."