Fill These Empty Hands

photo-1460687521562-9eead9abe9e8I’ve had to adapt to life rather than allowing life adapt to me.

It’s wasn’t supposed to be like this, ya know. By twenty-five, I was going to be married and soon thereafter, have a little girl, whom I’d name Monroe (after my G’ma who was Miss Monroe County, NE). My baby girl would have ridiculously curly hair, big blue eyes, and a snarky disposition… just like her momma.

But when the husband never arrived, the child never arrived, and now in their place lie awkward pauses in polite conversations with people who are one and two circles removed from my “stage of life.”

“How many kids do you have?” they ask.

“None,” I respond.

I even speed the forced conversation along by quickly adding, “I’m single. With zero kids” — because I know marital status is up next on the verbal agenda.

The facial expressions that follow are as varied and uncomfortable as the venues and events they happen in.

“Believe me,” I want to say, “I’m far more surprised than you to discover that I’m still without a husband and children. I mean look at me! I’m like the catch of the day at Dolphin Mall!” HA.

And for some reason, I tend to want to free people from the discomfort they’ve bound themselves to with this line of questioning — as if it’s my fault they asked something that is in no way relevant to who I am at the depths of my soul.

“What kind of car do you drive?”

“Were you in a sorority in college?”

“How many kids do you have?”

If I am honest with myself, and you, I want people to ask me something to which I have a comfortable answer. Comfortable for me. Not them.

Ask me something that doesn’t leave me wanting to high-tail it out of this mixer back to my empty house. Something like “What in your life do you feel most grateful?” Or, “Do you like chicken and waffles?”

For the love of the Lord most high, ask me ANYTHING, but please don’t ask me about my non-existent husband and kids. To that, my hands remain emptied of an answer that doesn’t make me feel isolated and alone.

Ugh. And it’s getting more difficult with each passing year to walk this life without a life partner.

But we all have something for which we hold out our hands and pray, “Lord, fill these empty hands.”

…Fill them with a job, a spouse, healthy connective tissues in my body, a child free from DIPG cancer. “Lord, fill these empty hands!” (You fill in your own blank).

I don’t know why the waiting lasts longer for some than others. And I don’t know why some never receive that for which they long.

One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen, says this of suffering:

Suffering invites us to place our hurts in larger hands. In Christ, we see God suffering – for us. The small and even overpowering pains of our lives are intimately connected with the greater pains of Christ. Our daily sorrows are anchored in a greater sorrow and therefore a larger hope.

When you live a life of faith, you raise your empty hands knowing they may never be filled. There is no promise that because I seek a husband, I will get one or that because I pray for healing that healing will come. (Despite what Joel Olsteen preaches).

But my faith is anchored in a larger hope — a hope that trusts that the God of my life knows the desires of my soul. And thus, I’m prayerful that he will fill my emptied hands with a husband.

And if not with a husband, then at least with a bean and cheese burrito. HA!

Until that time, however, I will own my loneliness, trust that it will not always be there, and continue to answer questions from strangers as graciously and honestly (and quickly) as I can.

In His Grip,



  1. molly says

    This is wonderful, Debbie. It was well worth the wait. Your hands may feel empty, but I know you have many amazing friends and family members who fill your heart. Love to you, amazing lady.

  2. Dan White says

    The soundtrack to your writing… Peter Gabriel “Don’t Give Up”…. I too find myself, hands stretched out, unsuccessful at gripping onto something, someone real. Never kids, Rachael gone. …uncomfortable questions in awkward gatherings. No game!

    Perfecting the words to “is That All There Is” I’m at peace as I hope and pray, the best is really yet to come.

    I’m so lucky to call you my friend and I say to you…Be patient…The best is yet to come.

    • Debbie Smith says

      I love that Peter Gabriel song! Thank you, Dan. I’m not having a pity party. Just being honest with what’s uncomfortable. And I know you know all too well what that’s all about!

  3. Rachel says

    I find it ironic you write this today…..Greg and I were discussing his sociology homework which touched on the idea that the longer something maintains status the more likely it is to continue that pattern…..we both mentioned people we went to school with who never married, not always out of choice, just circumstance. We came to the conclusion that for some the longer you are single the more likely you are to remain single, but it’s not always that simple….much of it is the underlying reasons behind it and the goals and motivations of how one approaches those things…..we also concluded that many people who may be”lacking”in societies eyes often possess skills and insight those”in the IN Crowd”can never achieve. Blessings abound in many ways and many times only through taking the road less traveled …enjoyed your article my friend.

  4. Kellie N. says

    Oh Deb, hang in there buddy! I know and hate the husband question and yep never married. I’m fortunate to have a child, but know too well that feeling in way to many situations.
    Well written and expressed, we need the masses to read your blog.
    Your hands are full of family, friends, The Judge, your new job and new life. Keep being you, the right person will come along and all will be a distant memory (we have to believe).
    Know you aren’t alone!
    Hugs and smiles

  5. Missy says

    You, my dear friend, are a joy and so brave. To write with such vulnerability and yet still believing Jesus that His best for you is coming. You are truth and grace personified. And even in those questions, your humor always gets me to chuckle. And dont think I didnt notice your examples
    Maybe it’s the Southern gentleman who will be the perfect fit- someday soon. I love you Debbie!

    • Debbie Smith says

      And you, sweet Miss, are one for whom my faith hopes to follow. Your overmastering thirst for Christ is something I long to emulate. Thank you for being Jesus to me. I love you more than all the M-n-M’s in your pantry. 🙂

  6. Lisa says

    Love it when you’re bloggin’, Debbie. You always touch my heart with your openness. Praying that God fill syour hands with your heart’s desire. Sadly I’m afraid he’ll have to work a major miracle to get you a really good bean and cheese buritto in Georgia. I know he’s God and all…Xo

    • Debbie Smith says

      Ha! Well lucky for me, there’s a Del Taco in the neighborhood. And as far as burritos go, that’s one of my favorites! 🙂 Thanks for your words, Lisa! xo

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