Many times, over the last few years, I have complained, “I feel like I have lost a piece of myself. I miss the person I once was.”

The years seem to have stolen much from me. The time, effort, and challenges involved in raising children have dominated my life. The disappointments and wounds over the years have stripped away the hopefulness of young adulthood. The loneliness of modern motherhood has given me a greater sense of emptiness than I had expected. And chronic illness has stolen much of my energy and mental and physical capacity.

People will at times say of someone, “He is a shell of who he once was.” I feel also as if I am a shell of who I had been. I long for the passion I once had for family life, for writing, and for life in general. I miss the depth of prayer I once enjoyed. I miss the excitement I would have over reading and learning something new.

The life I once had seems now to be a fairy tale. However, if I am honest, it had never actually been so idyllic.

In reality, there had been many holes, many pain points, many weaknesses in my life and in the depths of my being. There were gaping wounds then that are slowly being scarred over and healed.

The purgation of motherhood, of disappointments, loneliness, and chronic illness – those very things that seem to be suffocating the person I once was – are the same things God is using to heal me.

Sometimes we need to be emptied in order to be filled.

Our wounds, our loneliness, our longing, the realization of our littleness and failure can carve out a recess deep within. Surrendering these things and ourselves to God allows Him to empty us of ourselves and of our attachments so that we can be filled with Him and be more attached to Him than to the things of this world. It can help us to trust in God’s omnipotence rather than in our limited abilities, in God’s strength rather than in an illusion of our own.

Yes, there is much I have lost – at least for now – but much more I have gained. And the incredible thing is that I did little to gain such things except to put one foot in front of the other and continue to approach God with trust, sometimes more faithfully than others.

Something else interesting is that, in God, when we experience this type of poverty, that which we feel we have “lost” is not really lost in Him. It is still there but hidden.

Hans Urs Von Balthasar said, in his book Two Sisters in the Spirit, “Often it happens that the outlines [of who we are created to be and what we are created to do] are sketched in their full extent from the beginning, while the person must gradually assume the shape of her task. One grows into the outline…. [This] does not presuppose the unfolding of inner capabilities, as in the case of a natural gift, rather it requires a process of conforming to an ideal granted to the person’s nature from above and beyond. When this overwhelms one’s nature, the grace-aided effort to conform to what is required can at times seem unnatural” (382).

In other words, God often gives us early hints of the life He wishes us to lead and the person He created us to be. Who we are in our youth is not divorced from who we become as adults, even when things happen and circumstances change. Life is an unfolding of the design placed within us, an expanding into the outline. A well-lived life is one that begins as a seed, containing the blueprints within it, and blossoms into a flower that reflects Him in the way He designed it to do. The well-lived life contains a series of highs and lows that simultaneously purge it of what is not of God and is not of His design while drawing the soul into His embrace and transforming it into His vision for it. This, particularly, is not a natural unfolding but a supernatural conforming, whose origin is divine.

The low points in our lives are not void of hope. No, just the opposite. They are merely growing pains. They are times of purification if we allow them to be and if we allow God to work in them in such a way that we grow into that outline. If we allow Him to use those things to empty us of self so that we can be filled with Him and conformed more to His Image and into the person He has created us to be.

I find that, as I experience places of pain – pain which feels like a heaviness within my chest – I can sit with the Lord in it. I imagine this pain and heaviness as dirt and debris filling a malleable vessel deep within. As I surrender these things to God, I often sense Him scooping out the debris. The debris, with its volume and weight, as well as God’s act of scooping it out, has often widened the vessel so that, as it is emptied, it becomes more spacious and ready to receive more of Him. At the same time, the space made available for God expands to fill the outline He has formed.

God has given me hints over the years as to who He created me to be and how my life would take shape, hints I didn’t truly understand for a life I wasn’t ready to step into. But as I am moving through this time of being emptied and subsequently filled, I am realizing that, though I feel much less equipped for it, I am actually becoming more equipped. I am beginning to see the way more clearly than I could before.

Though I still frequently have the sense that I have lost a piece of myself, the reality is quite different. As I allow God to work in this loss, I am becoming more myself.

God has a plan, an outline, for each one of us. He gives us the elements necessary for us to grow into that outline and provides indispensable opportunities, often in the form of pain, loneliness, failure, and other things that empty us of self, so that we can been filled with Him and conformed to His Image. These things, though difficult and often disheartening, are exactly what God uses for our healing and our growth. In a mysterious way, when we die to self and are conformed to Him, we become more ourselves by becoming the people He created us to be, the people our souls long to embrace.

In God, all loss can be as gain as He purifies us and grows His presence within us. All emptiness is but space for Him to fill and transform.


Image courtesy of Unsplash

Share this post with your friends


Stay Connected

Sign up for our free email newsletter to stay up to date on the latest from!
  • Hidden

Scroll to Top