Thursday, February 16, 2012

be brave enough to be empty, letter nine, hilary to preston

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Preston and I blog letters back and forth, about theology and mystery and grace. We hope you'll join us. I'm writing to Preston this morning, and you can read his last letter to me here.

Dear Preston,

When I thought about whether or not to write, to put my fingers to the keyboard and attempt some kind of communication, I hesitated. Not because I don't have thoughts, or I don't still find it magic to put those thoughts into words. No, I wasn't sure how to tell the story of this week, how to weave together the person I have been, and all that has happened, and all that I am learning.

You see, yesterday I only found five minutes. Five minutes between 8am and midnight that belonged just to me. I used them to sit on the needing-to-be-vacuumed floor, with my winter coat still on, gloves stuffed into the pocket that has a hole in it, and cry. I used those five minutes to feel utterly bewildered. I used those five minutes to let my body physically express what I have so much trouble saying. That five minutes in a sixteen hour day, is not enough.

So I'm writing to you at 7:10am on a Thursday morning. My well feels a bit empty. My heart feels a bit heavy. My hands are full of the good, the beautiful, the true in the people I love and I am only realizing now that the way I want to love really might ask everything from me. It might really ask me to breathe deep and give again, and again, even when I don't feel like it and even when I don't know how to do it. I think this is grace, that when I go to the well and it is empty, His is full. When I look at my heart and see nothing else to give, no words for a facebook message, no smile for a passing classmate, no time for a friend, no... well, anything? He gives me what He has in His well. And He never runs dry. 

I want to tell you, Preston, to go drink from His well today. I don't know if that is Scripture or cappuccino, if that is a walk with a friend or reading for your thesis alone at a desk in the library. Maybe it is as simple as closing your eyes and asking to hear and see His love around you. But drink from His well today. He doesn't run dry, and His water is living water.

And we are women at the well thirsty and skeptical. We disbelieve. We say to ourselves, oh, no, there is nothing different about His water. We say, I might as well do it on my own. I might as well not ask for help. After all, what does He have? But I'm crawling to that well today and I have to believe He has living water there.

You said in your last letter that you don't know what you need. This is paralyzing, almost terrifyingly so. For if we knew what we needed, we could go searching for it. We could write a letter, buy aspirin for the headache, take a nap, write... but we don't know what we need. We can't just fix ourselves. We can't buy or borrow the cure because we can't diagnose what is wrong. I do not think this is a bad thing, actually. I think it might be grace to us. I think it gives us over wholeheartedly to God, makes us crawl to the well of living water empty, and say, here, You help me. I don't even really know what's wrong. 

Be brave enough to be empty. Be brave enough to drink living water, knowing that it illuminates all of the ways you aren't self-sufficient and you need God, knowing that it reveals just how small and fragile we can be, knowing that it is not by our strength we are healed. Be brave enough to be empty.

I believe He will fill you.



  1. This is so beautiful. And I needed to read this today. Thank you.

  2. Andrea - I'm so glad that you came by. I needed to read it, too. May He fill you today.

  3. Beautifully expressed, Hilary. I needed this reminder.

  4. Thank you, Leigh. I am glad it found you. 


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