I sat in the living room of my best friend. She was hosting our Tuesday night women’s Bible study and many of my friends were gathered there for fellowship and going through our weekly lesson from the current book or study we were doing. The leader started the evening by asking this question, “We are all seeking to be full, what are some things that you use to fill yourself instead of turning to God?” As she started going around the room, the women candidly shared what they use to “fill” themselves up. Some said food, others shopping, still others admitted that they fill themselves with the things they do for their children and family. When it came to be my turn, however, I was stumped. I felt as if all eyes were staring at me (I am sure that is not the case, but that “tunnel of eyes” is still etched in my memory.) I sat there very uncomfortable. I was at a loss for words. “Uhm, well…I don’t know. I don’t want to be full…I want to be empty.” After enduring a few more minutes of awkward looks, the group leader moved on with the lesson, but that night has stuck with me for years.
Why was I not craving fullness like everyone else? Physical fullness for me was considered a failure. It meant that I had become a glutton; that I was going to be fat…at least that is what the voice in my head was saying. My friends who had shared their own stories told about how they had gone through each day trying to be full with various things. I, on the other hand, went through my days doing whatever it took to be empty: avoiding food, over exercising, taking laxatives, even sleeping.
And yet, thinking back on that conversation in Bible Study and reflecting on God’s Word, it seems that we are created to want fullness. In the Bible, the word “fullness” carries more meaning than just “being filled” in quantity. It means completeness, accomplished, consecrated, ordained, PERFECT-made whole. So why, then, was I not wanting this? Why was I not subconsciously craving fullness?
Or was I?
Reflecting back on all my striving for emptiness, I realize that I was trying to be empty because I thought it would bring me to fullness—of the acceptance of others, of the desire of my husband. I thought that my emptiness would complete me. Not by something being IN me to fill me to fullness, but by me fitting into the lives of others. In my warped sense of fullness…I could only have it through becoming part of someone else’s.
Feeling my fullness
I had to learn to understand my need for fullness…not in the context of others, but in the way God made me to need it and desire it. My fullness, though, is not dependent on anyone else, and will not be “comfortable” unless it was the fullness for which I was created. Christ in me is what I was made for…nothing else can “fit”. Only when I am full with Him can I feel the completeness for which I long.
In recovery, I had to learn to “feel my fullness”, to understand it as part of the cycle my body needs to take care of itself. Being full is not a sign of failure, it is a signal for my body, my mind. It is a cue, just like hunger. Both are necessary to tell me what my body needs. I need both hunger and fullness to take care of my body physically.
There is also a spiritual hunger within me…one that seeks fullness. I need both of these. The hunger drives me more and more into God’s Word; into fellowship with Him. Seeking the fullness is the most worthwhile pursuit of my life. For it is only when I am full that I can empty myself to love and care for those around me, to serve others as God has called me to do.
The fullness does not last…I will feel the hunger again. But the source of my fullness will not ever run out. He is the wellspring of life, ever-flowing, ever-reaching into my innermost being- the one He created just for His Spirit to fill.
Spiritual Fullness in Christ
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
A Prayer from Ephesians
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.