“What’s next for me?”
This is probably the question that we always ask ourselves these days. One after another, we always have something else to do. “I can’t be doing nothing,” I always thought to myself. As we now have somewhat adjusted to this new normal, we are now loaded with tons of deadlines to meet, online meetings and classes to attend, work to do, and people to talk to. With all these things that spur us into action, our days are always apparently full, in fact, so full that 24 hours a day doesn’t seem enough anymore.
What scared me the most is that sometimes, at the end of these seemingly full-packed days, there’s this hollow feeling of emptiness inside. I hated it. Who would ever want to be empty? Who would want to be nothing? So, using my human sense to react, I tried my best to run away from it and decided to do more. I filled my days with more work, added a lot of things to my to-do list, and distracted myself to the point of exhaustion so I could just forget that emptiness that strongly bothers me. This is where it started to get messy.
With all the things I thought I needed to do to feel fuller, I started to gradually lose touch with all the things I used to enjoy doing. Writing, reflecting, and even praying—all these things that I used to just love doing became such a heavy burden every single day. It’s as if they all required me to be still and to bask in the silence when I can no longer find peace in the quiet. I got so used to the loud and busy days that my mind would always wander back to the list of things I needed to do. Human as I was, in my own conscious and unconscious ways, I was stifling the growing uneasiness which was probably God, tugging my heart and whispering that I was doing it all wrong.
But I guess, as much as I thought I knew my heart and what it needed, God knew better. It felt like God was begging to be seen and who could ever really stop God from getting what He wants? When I finally grew tired of just turning away, I gave in to Him. I started to fast, stripped myself of all the pleasures I indulged in, and focused on praying and listening more. It was a real struggle because I thought I needed all these earthly human things and I found it hard to let go. It was an even greater struggle learning to be quiet again with Him and to take my time in praying. But what amazed me was this—I found myself empty once again. But there was a difference. This time, it felt peaceful, liberating, and beautiful. At long last, it felt like my empty heart was seeing.
What I refused to see was that God was calling me to emptiness. The kind of emptiness that doesn’t focus on what is lacking but sees how much potential it holds on giving. The kind that doesn’t scare you because you know you are secured with the promise of being full. He was calling me to where I can glorify, not the emptiness, but the One who can fill its innermost spaces.
Stripped away of everything, the most important realization was this—I am only living in the mercy of God’s grace. Without it, I am nothing. Without it, all the work that I and all of us could ever do is meaningless. With His grace, being empty is an assurance of fullness. Empty minds can hear His voice more clearly. Empty hands can give away His love for others more generously. Empty hearts are humble enough to follow His calling more faithfully. Ironically speaking, with God, emptiness is more.
And how reassuring it is, to finally realize that God didn’t want everything from me; He wanted to be everything for me. He didn’t need more from me but I needed more of Him. He wanted me empty so that He can powerfully do His mighty works which, I finally learned, matters so much more than the work my human capacity could ever accomplish. God opened my eyes to this truth: the beauty of emptiness lies in letting God be God
When we live in a selfish world where being nothing and empty is looked down upon, here is Jesus saying, “Child, I won’t be turning away when I see you empty. I see you for who you are and I love you the same.” There is nothing wrong with our emptiness. For when Jesus first emptied His heart for us, He gave purpose to emptiness. It is an act of love. Let us offer our emptiness to Him so that we may no longer find ourselves draining from the demands of life, always wondering what’s next for our tired souls. For with Jesus’ assurance of love, what’s next for us is always grace—a fully empty, but full of grace.
Jessa Mui is a Mission Volunteer of MFC Youth serving in the area of NCR North.