Empty Hands

I try hard not to do any whiny, complaining posts. In the grand scheme of the world, my problems are trivial. Even on the hard days and even in the most difficult situations, I am blessed. I am acutely aware of that.

But sometimes, life just wears us down and we have to be able to say that.

We all walk around and we just lie to each other. We smile through our pain and we give polite nods in each other’s direction as we say, “I’m good!! How are you?” And many times we stay quiet because we remember that compared to so many others, our situation is nothing to complain about.

It’s true that compared to the world; the majority of what we struggle with is “first world problems.” But since that is the world most of us live in, it has to be okay to say, “This sucks.” Relative to our personal environments, our stresses can become heavy; and when they do, they are valid, despite what the rest of the world may look like.

Most of the time, I cruise along. I have a pretty high threshold for stress and pain, both physical and emotional. I’ve realized that motherhood has increased that threshold even more and for the most part, I’m kind of badass, if I do say so myself.

But there are days that rather than feeling badass, I feel kicked in the ass. And then, I even act like an ass. And if I’m being honest, which is my favorite way to be, it’s a big pain in my ass when this happens. 

Things become status quo and we adjust to whatever level of stress our life exists at. But occasionally more things get piled onto that stack and the bottom just falls out.

I tend to carry everything around with me. But I have learned over time that it is necessary to compartmentalize things because if not, it all meshes and collides and I become a dysfunctional mess. I simply cannot carry everything in my hands and expect nothing to fall.

Right now, the compartments are all overlapping. I’m weighed down by all I’m trying to carry and I can feel it in my bones. Literally, my physical body feels the weight of all the emotional things happening lately.

I’m not even sure how to share it all, and that’s rare for me.

I keep trying to write things out and aside from the time constraints that make it difficult, I’m struggling to share because I never want to feel like I’m whining.

So for now, I’m coming up empty-handed.

I’ve got nothing.

Nothing to offer but my empty hands.


I keep saying that to God, and finally I realized that’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.

It’s so uncomfortable though. Standing here empty handed, both literally and figuratively, it feels heavier than it should.

This physical heaviness that comes from this place of emptiness is hard to explain. As I type, my hands feel like boulders. But they’re empty. The weight I carry in my heart is spilling out into my limbs and I can barely lift them.

I don’t like this place.

It’s a powerless place. A heavy, painful place. An empty place.

But what God is showing me to do is to search for him in that emptiness. To hand him the weight and trust he will carry it. And to remember that though I may be powerless over many things, I am not helpless.

I bring nothing but my empty hands. But it is when our hands are empty that God can fill them. It is when we allow him to take all that we carry that he can free us from that weight and fill our empty hands with his grace.

Life is grace.

Each day, even the bad ones, is a day of grace. A chance to find the end of ourselves so that God has a chance to work.

He’s always there and he’s always working. Yet we insist on doing this thing ourselves. On carrying the heavy load.

God says, “Bring me your empty, tired hands. Let me carry the load. I am more than able and when you are weak, I am strong.”

I continually land on my back where I have no choice but to look up. It’s a good place to be. But I don’t like it.

Moms are especially notorious for this, “I can carry it all” syndrome. And many times, that’s because we have no choice. We do carry it all much of the time. But sometimes, it all becomes too heavy for our strength filled arms and we have to acknowledge that.

We have to learn to say, “I’m tired. It’s too much. I’m actually not ok right now.”

So that’s what I’m doing today. I’m admitting to you, to God, and to myself that it’s too much. These empty hands are heavy.

Through the blur of it all, I trust with all that I am that everything will work out, because it always does. My perspective will shift and I will regain my strength. I will find peace in the decisions I must make and my babies and I will all be just fine.

But in this moment, I feel crushed. Reality is crushing sometimes.

We have to keep going though.

And so we do. Empty, heavy hands and all, we keep going. We figure it out. And when we allow our hands to stay empty long enough for God to work in and through them, it all works to our good in the end.

If your hands are empty, lift them up. If you can’t lift them up, just leave them where they are. God can reach them. Sometimes all we have to offer is our empty hands. But the blessing is, that’s all God ever wants from us.

I love this Ani Difranco song and it feels appropriate here. My hands may be empty, but I will continue to use them both however God wants me to use them.

Both hands
now use both hands
no don’t close your eyes 
I am writing
graffiti on your body 
I am drawing the story
of how hard we tried 
I am watching your chest rise and fall
like the tides of my life
and the rest of it all
your bones have been my bed frame
and your flesh has been my pillow
I’ve been waiting for sleep
to offer up the deep with both hands

~Both Hands by Ani Difranco

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14 thoughts on “Empty Hands

  1. My favorite simple surrender prayer is this: Show me the way. Let your will be done. Show me the way. I surrender. I surrender all.

    Namaste. Wishing you strength through the struggle!!


  2. I am sorry you are feeling this way right now… you have a LOT on your plate and it is only natural to feel overwhelmed. I hope you find a break soon, maybe even a few full nights of sleep?? (noooo.. that’s crazy talk!!) 😉


    • Haha Lauren! Full night’s sleep….? What is that???! 🙂 Thank you for this! Sometimes it just helps to say it out loud, or in words, and get a little encouragement from others. Thanks for being here along the way, through the many ups and downs.


  3. Such raw, beautiful truth. Thank you for being vulnerable here. I say it alll the time, but I so understand! So many times, that is all I have for Him. Oh, but how He fills our hands every time! Sometimes, friend, even with each other’s hands when we extend them like this. 😉 You are not alone. Hugs and prayers.


  4. I cried as I read this post and really needed this today since recently becoming a single mommy of a 2 small children under 18months I have not been able tp find someone who could actually relate to me but I did today. These exact “empty hands” words are words that actually used in describing the painful end of my marriage, the awful custody battle and the ruin that are left to put together. Most days I am on top of everything I managed to repress my pain of my marriage at first “because I had to mobilize and get going for the kids”now I deal with and cry if I have to late at night, manage to care for the kids manage to get ready to head back to work managed to move from the beautiful home I can no longer afford and have to rent out now but some days that little extra gets piled on and I just can’t. Thank you for reminding to look to God and thank you for being someone who knows what its like to weigh out whether taking them a bath, bathing yourself or eating your standing meal is more important. God Bless you!!


    • Such a beautiful, heartfelt comment. Thank you for sharing this. I am so sorry you;re on this difficult journey but just in this comment, it is clear how strong you are…doing what you have to do even when it feels like you can’t. Hang in there and continue looking up. You’re in my thoughts and prayers and thank you again for this beautiful comment.


  5. Thankful for you sharing these words. This is where I’m at, I literally can carry no more, yet I feel the load still so heavy. I’m tired. Physically so tired. Yet I can feel the load through to my fingertips, I often wonder what the sensation is running through my arms to my fingertips, and you said it so well, the weight I carry in my heart is spilling out. I hope one day I can share my journey with others as you are so brave to do, because your words bring me understanding and peace. Love and light to you!!


    • This was so beautiful. Thank you! I’m sorry this is the place you’re in (and I’m sorry I’m just now responding.) Life can be so hard and so cruel. But somehow, we keep going even when we don’t think we can. Thank you for being here and for sharing your painw ith me. What an encouragement to know this was helpful to you. Prayers sent your way! ❤


  6. Praying for you – i too have felt this heaviness going to bed at night and in the morning. As a single mom, the do it all mentality has to stop as does the past negative talk (Galations 5:1). We are free in Christ, free to be empty, joyful, hopeful, and sad. He loves us.


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