Saturday, August 8, 2015

empty places.

I went back home this week. But it's odd how it suddenly wasn't my home anymore. 

Let me preface this. I grew up in Harrisonburg with my three brothers from the callow age of 4 to the budding age of 13, which was when I moved to Lexington, with only my parents. From this beatific  age until I was 18, time passed by in an old brick farm house in the country and I learned many things. I grew up, I was molded, shaped and defined by many things in my life between these years and so I ascribed many of my emotions, experiences, and escapades to this home. My identity became imbedded in creaky wooden floors, in a thousand crickets in the forest beside my window, in the many sunrises that glittered over the hayfields around our home. I knew every sound of this house, every smell, every imperfection in the walls, every dip in the floor. Every corner of this home was lived in, was cherished, was full. 

But some places are only meant to be lived in for a time. Whether it is short or long, the time runs out eventually. My parents are moving, so most of the fillers are out of the house. The books, the pictures on the walls, the towels, the decorations and knick knacks; all safely packed away in boxes. 

I came to visit this past week. It's still a house. The brick walls, the frame, the paint, the floors, the plumbing and the piping are all still in tact. But it's hollow. I walk into the home and it smells different. The air is thick and stagnant from no one living there. You can hear every creak in the floor because the walls are bare and there is nothing to absorb the sound. It sounds different. I walk into my room and it echoes, but it still looks the same. The same color, the same furniture. Yet when I open my drawers and pull back my closet doors, there is only emptiness to be found. 

It's such an odd feeling to know a place so well, to see it look somewhat the same and yet be so dolefully hollow at the same time. These are empty places, and they make my heart lurch. 

I think perhaps it is the idea that everything is changing.. that this home isn't my home anymore. And that is a sad thing. But I also think my heart aches because it sees itself in this hollow house. 

Empty places have inhabited my heart... and they don't know how to fill themselves again. I believe we all have memories, relationships, experiences, lessons that we have bound ourselves to, but when they leave us, we find that our hearts have been so closely bound to them that their absence leaves large caverns in our hearts that we don't know how to recover. And little bit by little bit, our hearts become full of tiny little caverns, holes, empty places.. waiting to be filled. 

We become friends with people who burn us, and the love we chose to give them suddenly becomes an empty mass. We have hopes and desires that for one reason or another escape us, and another hole opens as they drift from our grasp. We have people who we love pass away, and nothing can ever seem to fill the void that they left in our core. Harsh words, ill treatment, unanswered questions... pain leaves us with empty places and we don't know how to fill them. At least I don't. 

When you walk outside my room door, straight across the hallway is a huge floor length mirror. You can't miss seeing yourself every time you walk out of my room... which is rather unfortunate after I wake up in the morning. No one wants to see that disheveled mess of curly hair and puffy eyes. But unfortunately I saw it every day. I saw my reflection. Being back at the house this week and staring at my reflection felt like I was looking at a stranger. Odd how one probably sees their face in mirrors every single day, but suddenly you don't recognize yourself. Perhaps it's because I felt hollow. Perhaps its because much like the echoing house and deafening creaky floors, my reflection felt full of holes on the inside. I was a chest of drawers, a closet, with nothing inside of it. 

I don't enjoy admitting this. I don't enjoy feeling like my heart is nothing but a maze of caverns. And then I remembered this quote. 

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” 

You know that song by Hillsong? The one that plays all the time? Oceans? I think I get the song wrong. I often pray the chorus because I believe it to be bold, but also because I feel it's the desire of my heart. But I don't think I realize what I'm asking for, because I'm never happy with what I get. Because this is what happens.I ask God to "take me deeper than my feet could ever wander" to fill my caverns, to build my holey heart into a holy home. God fully intends to fill this heart, yet I only allow Him to fill one tiny space when He wants to indwell in every crevice of my being. Read that last sentence again. He wants every cavern, every desire, every broken relationship, every hurt, every guilt, every misunderstanding, every lie, every misdeed, every hole that I've allowed to define me and He intends to make me whole. He wants to take these empty places and fill them with more mirth than the previous occupiers could ever have provided. Give Him your empty places and you'll be like a bride, purely refined, by trials and death herself. 

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