There’s a lot of discussion about “filling our cups” when we feel depleted, within both spiritual and secular literature. A quick Google search led me to these common sentiments:
- Have you ever felt like you had nothing left to give? At that point, your cup is empty.
- To fill your cup means to replenish those stores of mental, emotional, and physical energy.
- When you fill your own cup, you’ve got more to give to others.
- Empty cups lead to burnout and breakdown.
- Remember to fill your cup, because you can’t pour from an empty cup.
When operating from a Christian worldview, it’s expected that we should look to God to “fill our cup,” however he deems necessary. Over the years, I’ve often heard people talk about ways to pursue such replenishment, whether through prayer, scripture reading, Bible study, and/or fellowship with other believers.
Recently, I found myself in a bit of an empty place. Parenting (especially kids with ACEs too high), while working full-time, amidst a never-ending “shelter-in-place” order has proven to be more depleting than filling. [I know, biggest understatement of the year, right?]
So I felt
empty utterly bone dry And I tried to do all of those proper Christian things to start filling back up. But—and this is important—when you are empty you aren’t necessarily thinking straight. In fact, you might even get tunnel vision such that you are blinded by your emptiness.
Sometimes that tunnel vision can prevent me from seeing the best way forward… and even make me want to run in the opposite direction. Maybe that way forward just seems too hard. Or maybe it just looks like more of the same. But it doesn’t feel refreshing at all.
When this happened most recently, I wanted to stop doing the thing that has most depleted me and escape from its pressure… even if the emptying activity is something really worthwhile and really important.
I’ve noticed this can translate into me actually hoping (praying?) for this emptying-yet-worthwhile activity to come to an end, and simultaneously praying for God to fill me up so I can keep going.
I’m empty… I want to be refreshed so I can go on… but I also want an escape from the suffering.
God, I know you’ve equipped me thus far and can continue to do so, but I’m just so tired. Can’t someone else take over? Do I really have to carry this cross for so long?
At times like this, the tunnel vision can make me want to ignore any signs God might be encouraging me to keep going, focusing instead on the ways this activity is sucking me dry.
But they were there. The signs of replenishment.
Some might be so obvious they seem too good to be true. Others can quietly flutter by, such that we have to intentionally look for them. And some might come completely out of left field—with me staring intently at the far post in right field, expecting my reprieve to come in a very specific form from that location!
Individually these signs of replenishment don’t appear to be enough. But add them all together and the sum is so much greater than its parts.
In fact, that cup might even become refilled to the point of overflowing… if we are willing to reach out and drink from it.
Sigh… OK, God, I see what you’re doing here. I mean, I don’t understand it but I see it. I don’t really understand any of this. But I trust you.
Anyone else? How has God sustained you in unexpected (unwanted?) ways?