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The empty spaces

college moving day It’s a mystery.

How did my baby girl who held one pacifier between her teeth and another one in her hand, who woke up cheerily every morning composing songs in her crib, who loved books more than watching Bert and Ernie (and she loved Bert and Ernie)—how did that baby take empty boxes, pack 18 years of living into them, and drive away to independence?

So it happens. As it should. Our lives are full one minute, then emptied out the next. Roles change. People flow in, flow out.

But the moments in between—between the role of full-time mother to a sideline cheerleader, between the old and the new—those moments of emptiness are uncomfortable. We’re tempted to either ignore them or else fight against them. Sometimes Emptiness cooperates, winking at us, saying, “Okay...I’ll lay low, this time.”

moving boxesEventually, though, it wants more. Empty spaces crave our attention. They want us to sit down, get acquainted, and learn lessons. Such as: Humility. Perseverance. Risk-taking.

God whispers his truths to us in these quiet moments.

When my daughter moved, the empty space that opened up was sad, but it also held gifts. It threw out connecting lifelines with other college mothers. It unwrapped memories to laugh at. It invited wonder over the Miss Independent we had produced.

It taught me that flipping roles, while painful, was as important for me as it was for my daughter.

Other life changes have opened up empty spaces as well. Aches of the body have opened up sleepless nights. Could I have guessed how much I would miss sleep? A seemingly effortless nighttime activity. I took it for granted—until it deserted me.

The empty space it created has been slow to refill. But as surely as God gives us alertness, he also gives us rest. And in the empty space of desolate nights, I’ve learned to seek his rest in deeper ways.

As I negotiate new ways to deal with the loss, he fills up the hole with himself. Sometimes, it feels like enough. Other times, it doesn’t—but only because of my immature understanding of his fullness. I’m still growing to accommodate him.

But this much I do understand:
There is a gracious peace from accepting the in-between times of emptiness.

Without the empty spaces forced upon us from time to time, we would live too crowded. And we’d lose the gaps where new things settle in.

And I’d have missed all the exciting visits to Auburn to admire my almost-grown up baby girl.


Lisa Spence said...

One, this is a beautiful post.

Two, your daughter's at Auburn? My husband is an alum and raising the four biggest Tiger fans you ever saw! Are you in Alabama?

Lisa notes... said...

And yes, my daughter is at Auburn. I'll send you an e-mail with more...

Unknown said...

Wow! This is absolutely beautiful. And so insightful. Thanks for writing this.
~ Cyndi
God Nuggets Blog


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