In our culture, to confess that you see a glass half-empty is not necessarily a good thing. We live in a world of positive thinking and unceasing optimism. We’re all awesome. We’re all about the fullness of life. We all can win. By golly we can do it.
And so it’s no wonder that we are ambivalent, if not afraid of the empty spaces in our lives.
According to Merriam Webster, it means
- containing nothing; not occupied or inhabited; unfrequented; not pregnant ; null
- lacking reality, substance, meaning, or value : hollow; destitute of effect or force; devoid of sense : foolish
- idle; having no purpose or result; useless
- marked by the absence of human life, activity, or comfort
Most often, we associate emptiness with boredom, social alienation and apathy. Clearly, in our vocabulary, emptiness is not something we strive after. Who wants to be lacking in substance? Or useless?
When we see an empty retail space for lease, we immediately assume that a former business had gone bust. An empty house these days often mean a foreclosure. Empty pockets belong to the homeless. Empty people go to therapy. Empty calendars are for the social misfits and introverts of the world. Empty, according to our culture, is for losers.
But what if an empty retail space means one less business that doesn’t truly offer anything valuable? An empty house as a means of downsizing? Empty pockets as living on less? Empty people as hungry for transformation? Empty calendars as slowing life down? What if empty is for people who are quietly revolutionizing our way of Life towards what is truly Good?
Yesterday, about 2.1 billion people celebrated the person who has best redeemed Empty for us all. By being Empty himself and consequently leaving us an Empty tomb. The Ultimate Revolution of The Empty.
Many of us are confused with what exactly Jesus wants us to do with our lives. We asks questions about what best career to choose, how best to use our money, who to marry. Important questions, yes, but maybe they are not the essential questions He had in mind. I shouldn’t really speak for Him, so I’ll let Him speak for Himself. He says,
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
The poor, the mourners, the meek, the hungry all have one thing in common: they are all empty. Empty of esteem, empty of joy, empty of pride, empty of justice. And Jesus calls them, blessed.
Embracing The Empty Spaces
Embracing the Empty Spaces in our lives requires boldness and faith. We often try to occupy our houses, our time, our minds, our hearts with one thing after another so long as they keep us distracted, entertained, perhaps happy. An empty corner in the living room seems to call for one more thing to buy, empty slot in our schedule another activity to pass the time. Henri Nouwen once said,
Empty space tends to create fear. As long as our minds, hearts, minds and hands are occupied we can avoid confronting the painful questions to which we never gave much attention and which we do not want to surface.
What do the empty spaces mean to us? What does it mean when I have my nights free of any commitments to serve, to give, to do? What does it signify to have a house barely furnished, with just the necessities? What does it say about those who have a nearly empty closet, to only possess a handful of clothes to be worn often and again? What does it mean to have a name without any professional initials at the end, with nothing spectacular to show for?
What do you think about empty spaces? Do you feel the same way? Do you agree or disagree? Leave your thoughts! Next week, we’ll dive more into the idea of emptiness and what it looks like to live a empty-handed life. If you liked this article, please pass the word! If you haven’t yet, do subscribe so you won’t miss a post! Thank you!