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How did God make every woman a maker, asked author Ann Voskamp. By placing an empty space inside her.

Over the past two years of my spiritual transformation I have become more familiar with the empty space inside me than I ever thought palatable. I knew the emptiness to be there previously. (Oh, yes…I could feel it. It felt like a slow acid bubbling and eating away at my inner existence.) But why would I ever want to go there? One goes there only when all other options are spent.

And, well…that happened to me.

With my counselor and spiritual director, and by myself with the Holy Spirit I have traveled to my own depths. There I found a huddled mass of self who had long been yearning to be free. Tears, fear, shame, anger, pain? Yes. But the will to live, a strong will to live joyfully, gratefully, playfully and compassionately I found within my emptiness as well.

Who knew? Certainly not I.

Even with this discovery I thought of my emptiness primarily as negative space. In the dark emptiness is where repressed memories of painful experiences lurk.  They prefer the darkness so that they can remain hidden from view.  Shame hides them and keeps the truth locked behind its dungeons.  Never can these see the light of day, else all will know I am a fraud, a sabotageing voice whispers.  I alone know the password, and it, too, is lost in the emotional abyss. And then I heard Ann Voskamp speak.

How did God make every woman a maker? By placing an empty space inside her.

Empty space. Emptiness. Two sides of the same coin, the way I see it.

I recalled struggling in seminary. I doubted not my call, but plenty of folk in my own classes and in the surrounding community did. God does not gift women for ministry. God does not call women. I felt as if they were doing everything possible to prevent me from serving God professionally. The fact that I had volunteered for pulpit supply at nearby churches and three times told not to come because I am a woman didn’t help. I internalized the pain and took people’s “conscientious rejection” of women in ministry most personally. I was imprisoned by my feelings of rejection.

“I just want the pain to stop forever,” I sobbed in my professor’s office one afternoon. He looked at me with deep compassion and the care of a pastor. His face mirrored my pain, and he let me cry.

“That would feel better,” he responded gently. I nodded as I blew my nose.

My professor continued, “It would also, I’m afraid, handicap your ministry.” I was truly confused, and my face showed it. An expression of consternation flashed as I said, “What?!”

The place where your pain lives is the same place from which your empathy flows, he explained.  Because you hurt, you understand and can feel compassion for those who feel similarly.  Out of your pain your call is born, in essence; just as out of Jesus’ death came new life.

I blinked and stared at him.  I took a breath to speak, but then closed my mouth. Nothing I could say, not even lament, seemed to be an appropriate response.  I searched my heart, quickly finding the part that is filled with passion for the eradication of injustice and love for all who have been and are oppressed in any way.

He is right, my I heard my inner voice say.  He is right. 

So, this emptiness…it’s not all bad.  Perhaps it is a place where creativity dwells, like God in the Holy of Holies. Within my empty space burgeoning life is nourished and nestled as it grows and strengthens.  The dark emptiness is an incubator of sorts, and out of it comes great art. I am wounded, yes.  I am also a maker.

How did God make every woman a maker? By placing an empty space inside her.

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