Last year, it was “nothing”. (See my January 2017 post for background on the give me a word tradition.)
As December, 2018, was drawing to a close, I thought perhaps this word was choosing me again for the new year. Certainly I had not learned all that I could from its lessons. No other word seemed to be emerging.
Until it did. I recognized it because it had knocked on my door before. Before, it was not time. Now it is.
The word that has chosen me for 2019 has a visual to go with it:
My new word is, of course, curiously similar to last year’s. (Words from previous years never really leave me – they build on one another, all part of the “plot” God has to save me in my wretchedness.)
An interesting feature of my 2019 word, however, is that it may be understood as either an adjective or a verb. Experience has taught me that, when given a word that is a verb, I must prepare myself for change. And, quite often, it is not a change that I would have chosen.
I expect I will experience my word in varying ways throughout the coming year.
I may have the unpleasant experience of feeling empty inside, either on a worldly level or a spiritual level. Well… probably both.
As much as I do not enjoy this, I know it will be for my good if I recognize God’s hand in it.
To experience my emptiness is an opportunity to recognize how very much I need Him. If I remain filled with thoughts, emotions and activities, I can too easily slip into considering God just one part of my otherwise full life.
When I am confronted with the utter emptiness of my being, it is either God or despair. I pray for the grace to always turn to God at such moments.
As much as this adjective will likely follow me through the year, the verb is right behind it.
Just a day or two ago, I was reminded of these words of Scripture:
Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2: 5-8)
When I heard these words, I knew without a doubt that “empty” was my word. He emptied Himself.
In following Him, am I not also to empty myself?
His emptying was a lowering of Himself from His glorious power as God to become one of us.
My emptying will surely be of a different sort. Yet there runs a parallel as I learn to accept the true lowliness of my being – to accept that I am not in control and that, at any moment, I may be called upon to surrender without reservation anyone or anything that I love.
This feels very scary.
And it would be scary if my emptiness were the final state of affairs. It would be scary if my self-emptying were merely part of a hard and cruel existence devoid of any meaning.
But I am embracing my word so that it might lead me, that in following the Savior I might empty myself out of love – or, perhaps better said, I give myself to Him completely that He might empty me.
For what He empties, He fills.
+All glory and praise to Him forever. Amen.