Listening to the lack is much more productive than trying to bypass it or pretending it doesn't exist.

There Is Wisdom in Listening to the Lack

On Monday night, a crew of wonderful women landed at my house for chili and chowder–or chowdah if you’re from around here. Our last pre-COVID gathering had been in February, and while we’ve been worshiping weekly in our lawn chairs under God’s blue sky, I was beginning to miss our closer sharing of the truth and the kind of conversations that spring up among friends who know each other well but still manage to love and accept each other.

Last week, I decided it was time to stop wishing and to start inviting. My dining room is spacious enough to accommodate our small group, and we would be careful to keep our distance. I began jotting a menu and making plans.

That sense of longing, the feeling of lack, moved me toward action. I’m learning (slowly) that listening to the lack is much more productive than trying to bypass it or pretending it doesn’t exist.

When we sing the old hymn lyrics in which Jesus “emptied himself of all but love,” it’s easy to forget that it was a true emptying, verified by Scripture and borne out in dread and bloody sweat. When God the Son emptied himself of his privileges, his physical death became possible, with the end result of true life for you and me and the glorious filling that happened when God “highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name.”

But back to the task at hand: Paying attention to my need for connection led to it’s fulfillment.

How does one make that move from the awareness of a need to its fulfillment? Well, for me it was a matter of deciding that the trouble and the work and the risk of inviting were absolutely worth it.

Whenever I fling open my door (after having cleaned off the St. Bernard slobber), I end up grateful and glad I did it. My friend Sue Donaldson has said this so well:

We invite someone to our table so that they find out God’s invited them, too. No better way to live. No better reason to change the sheets one more time or put another burger on the grill. All for heaven’s sake.”

Listening to the lack is much more productive than trying to bypass it or pretending it doesn't exist.

What’s the gnawing emptiness that’s got your attention today? Is there a broken relationship, a persistent loneliness, a need for an understanding ear or a word of encouragement? Learn to linger with what provokes you–and then ask yourself what’s behind the feeling. What is standing in the way of your going first to address the need?

Whether we are offering hospitality around our table or extending the welcome of forgiveness in a relationship that needs repair, believers have been called by God to the business of filling and reconciling. Decide today that you will listen to the lack that’s calling your name and then create the space of welcome, acceptance, or reconciliation that you long for.

Under the mercy,

Michele Morin

On the Third Thursday of every month, I send biblical encouragement and newsy insights to newsletter subscribers. It’s not too late for you to grab October’s installment where I’m sharing snatches of Elisabeth Elliot’s wisdom I have paired with scenes of autumn beauty from here on my country hill. It’s a series of free images you can download and do with what you please. Click here to subscribe and be sure to spread the word if you know someone who would enjoy the free gift.

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24 thoughts on “There Is Wisdom in Listening to the Lack”

  1. “Deciding that the trouble and the work and the risk of inviting were absolutely worth it.” Amen, and very well said. I needed this reminder and encouragement today. And I agree, the trouble, worth, and risk, are, indeed, worth it!

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  2. “Listening to the lack . . .” Such sound advice, Michele. We do need to listen to and heed what our hearts are telling us, and do our best to fill the void with what God would have us do.
    Blessings!

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  3. Beautifully said, Michele! Living in such a rural area, I depend on opening my door to others for the connection. Throughout this entire year, I have refused to ‘close’ that door – and instead have found my home has become a place of refuge and expressing God’s love for us for many.

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  4. Michele,
    Thanks for your call to “listen to” vs. bypass, dodge, stuff down, or ignore the lack. When we don’t give the ache the time and attention it deserves, it just perpetuates itself. Great reminder and much needed!
    Blessings and I can just smell the yummy chowdah 🙂
    Bev xx

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  5. I just sent an email to one of my small groups to see if they want to meet in person or stay on zoom. I’m thankful that we can meet online, but it isn’t the same as hanging around and sharing face to face. So your opening grabbed my attention!

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  6. Isn’t it wonderful to get together in small groups again? I went for a picnic lunch with a group of retired teachers this month and it felt so good! The theme of this post also fits into the word I am considering pondering next year. Thank you for your thoughts on the subject. Always appreciated.

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  7. “The work and the risk of inviting [are] absolutely worth it.” How often did I drag myself through the preparations for guests only to be reenergized and joy-filled once they arrived? Lesson learned: anticipate the delight to come while in the midst of cleaning, to perk up my attitude–and strength!

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  8. Michelle,
    Thanks so much for stopping by!! Great post and i love the statement of Listening to the Lack…
    Stay safe, healthy and happy!!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

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  9. Good for you for listening to the lack. We are in some strange times….we are all trying to get by in one way or another. Glad you have the space to accommodate. Thanks for linking up!

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  10. I’m so glad you were able to get together with your small group again! I am definitely feeling the lack but we are not allowed to gather in others’ homes at all here right now. We will definitely appreciate it so much more when we can. And for now, it encourages us to persevere with Zoom because, even though it’s not the same, it’s a way to connect.

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  11. I don’t really miss meeting in person so much as I do just going out without having to worry about the consequences. Being an introvert, I’m happy to be at home or walk down the road to my small studio – but didn’t realize how much the lack of choice about going out, eating out sometimes can affect me. But I’m always grateful that we’re safe and well when others have no choice but to go out as part of work!

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