When Your Cup Is Empty

When Your Cup Is Empty

It seems that everyone I’ve talked to lately is in need of having their cup refilled.. myself included. So I invite you to sit & linger for just a bit, pour yourself another cup of coffee, and let’s chat about what a full-cup, overflowing life might look like.

We all know the signs & symptoms when our cups are empty. Irritability, flying off the handle over minor inconveniences, snapping at the people we love, feeling sad & joy-less & uninspired. But what are the signs & symptoms of a full cup? How do you know you’re dwelling in the richest land possible? And what do you do when you realize your cup has been drained dry and you’re standing here empty & parched?

We’re all wired a little differently when it comes to what refills us and what drains us. You might be rejuvenated by a large, fancy social gathering – the very thing that sucks the lifeblood out of me. I’m much more invigorated by a day all to myself to plant flowers and take a walk in the sunshine and an unhurried space to journal and read. A day like last Friday, when spring was here in full force and our entire neighborhood was reveling in it. Kids riding bikes. Alyssa mowing the grass, Cyrus keeping in step with his little plastic bubble mower. Toby adding fresh bedding to the chicken coop. Matt and Jarod loading their gear for an MBNOK gig. And me… happily working on my porch project, planting and painting and listening to Pandora. Am I working, playing, or worshipping? Who can tell?


The point is – know yourself. Pay attention to what fills your cup. Someone challenged me to make a list of 20-25 activities (and rest can be an activity ☺) that refresh my spirit, and to be intentional about incorporating these into my weekly routines. I’ve found this to be a worthwhile practice and would encourage you to create your own list, and scatter your “cup re-fillers” generously into your days.


This is so important for all of us, and even more so if your roles in life require intensive caretaking of others. Stay-home moms, working moms, teachers, ministers, those who work with the physically, mentally or emotionally broken – it is crucial that you carve out blocks of time purely devoted to refilling your cup. You operate day in and day out from your overflow, and if the cup is empty, there is no overflow.

We weren’t created to be workhorses, driving ourselves into the ground year after year in some driven frenzied search for financial security or status or respect. We were created for both work and play, and worship can happen while we’re doing both. From the beginning, God designed rhythms of life. Hard work followed by weekly Sabbath rest and planned, intentional times of celebration through various feasts and festivals. And always, always, time for community and family and basking in God’s Presence. Feeling that your cup is empty can be a sign that your life is simply out of balance. It can be God’s way of getting our attention so balance and joy can be restored.


Is anyone thirsty? Come & drink. 


But there’s a flip side to this. Sometimes I think my cup is too full. It’s full of all of the things I try to cram into it, in my search for meaning or significance or affirmation. Sometimes it’s full of worry or resentment or the noise of all the chatter in my brain. Full of things that crowd out the presence of the holy God who knows me so well and wants me to know Him just as well. The One who promises me full & abundant life and sometimes just wants me to sit still and listen for His voice.

And this is the paradox. If I’m not pouring out regularly, emptying my cup, there is no room to be refilled. No room for the Living Water… who longs to wash over me, pour right through me, and splash wildly on all those around me. Because sometimes, ironically, it’s in that moment when I think I have nothing left to give but I give anyway, that I discover my cup is not empty, as I had perceived, but is indeed full.

Praying for you, my friend, that your empty cup would be filled up, and your full cup would overflow and be poured out as a life-giving, thirst-quenching offering.




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