Every Monday morning, my coworkers and I gather with coffee and breakfast remnants to discuss the previous day’s services. We take turns talking about how things went well, how things could be improved, and how we saw God at work. Dave almost always has a funny story to share; a handful of people compliment my sweet husband on a job well done in the tech booth, and my heart swells with pride and gratitude for him. This particular Sunday had been slightly chaotic for me, as my ministry partner was out of town, and a handful of volunteers had declined to serve due to a baby’s fever or a venture to see family members out of town. When I recapped how services went, I admitted that I was a bit unnerved by the prospect of having to fill the holes. My supervisor was kind when she told me later in the day that, in general, we tried to avoid using the phrase “needing to fill holes,” because ministry should not be reduced to that.
I haven’t been able to shake that this week — not because I said the wrong thing in our staff meeting, but because I think God is looking for any possible means of getting through to me in the wake of the whole “search me” chat we had awhile back. The truth is, I have a lot of holes, and I’ve been trying desperately to fill them. The deeper truth is that I try to fill them because I don’t want to need God. So I turn to my girlfriends, my husband, sex, food, Netflix, social networking, building a platform, blog metrics, shopping, my job, and pretty much anything else within reach that I can use to distract myself from the knowledge of the holes — the realization that I cannot save myself.
I am just a girl. I have holes. I cannot save myself. And I cannot save anyone else. Perhaps that is the greatest attempt to fill the void — the belief that these words of mine could save you. I disillusion myself to think that perhaps if I am empty, at least I might be noble in my aim. And I write the same words over and over again, praying they will plant themselves like seeds inside all of our hollow spaces.
The words themselves are unoriginal at best, and I begin a slow descent into the all too familiar realm of self-loathing. I try to cram my own journey inside the mold of others — the ones that look more delicate and lovely to my jealous eyes. I rush haphazardly to and fro between the belief that isolation is the secret ingredient in finding myself out here in the woods and the plea that I will not be left to my own devices. My stomach ties itself in knots and I swallow hard the blood unearthed by the nervous habit I have carried since childhood.
Occasionally I decide to spend time with Him. Mostly in the car, when I know the quiet will sear into me if I don’t fill it. I put these words on repeat: all I know is I know that You are here now. I want to believe it, and maybe in those moments I do believe. I want to believe that He is willing to stay with me, even though I still don’t know what it means to just be still and let Him make me whole.
I promise, I’m starting to want to know. And maybe that’s enough for now. Maybe the woods weren’t meant to be bounded through with headstrong intention. Maybe they were purposed to remind me of my dependence, and my need to simply take baby steps — agonizing though they may be. This is how endurance is built.