How to find contentment when you are running on empty

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on May 4, 2022

“If you, like me, have been thirsting for the Lord’s presence in your life, seek times of adoration and quiet moments of prayer.” – photo from unsplash.

I sat at a corner table in the dining area of Granville Island’s public market. The view was spectacular. Floor-to-ceiling windows offered me an unobstructed view of the ocean, city, and mountains. Cormorants bobbed in the water. Seagulls flew by. Neon-jacketed runners traversed the sea wall across from me.

Ferries and pleasure boats moved slowly. Rowers practised their strokes cutting through the water.

I ate delicious Greek food from The Sprig. It filled me up as I was waiting to meet up with friends to watch a play. I wrote notes for my next column on my phone and enjoyed people-watching.

Many passersby took photos on the boardwalk right in front of me. I watched them smile. They were enjoying the spring sunshine as much as me. My weekend was turning out to be full of activity. And I was searching for that feeling of happiness.

Lately, I have felt discontent. On a walk during the week, my roommate reminded me about having a spirit of gratitude.

I can be thankful for so much. How easy it is to forget the goodness in my life. Taking everything for granted. Reflecting on my blessings from my time in the hospital helps me to see God’s hand upon me.

He was with me when I was the only one left in the residential hospital for almost a week. I felt his presence in the encouragement and quality time from the staff members helping me feel less alone.

I had a place to dance even if it was in the parking lot to de-stress.

There was a hot meal for me every day.

My family and friends called or came to visit me when they could.

New medications were adjusted to benefit my mental health.

My doctor listened to my concerns and questions.

I found ways to calm myself when train noises kept waking me up in the middle of the night.

Even in that dark period of my life last year, I felt the Lord’s presence. It is when I get cozy and everything is going well that I tend to forget to lean on him.

I want to offer some words for the young professional woman (like me) who is discontented and running on empty. It’s time to let go of the idea that busy is better. If you, like me, have been thirsting for the Lord’s presence in your life, seek times of adoration and quiet moments of prayer. Attend a weekday Mass if you can.

Jesus waits for you to give him all your worries and goals. Celebrating the Easter season is a way to remember that he calls us, “arise, my beloved one, and come.”

Cultivate trust that God has it all in hand. And practise gratitude. When I think I have control, I can become self-reliant and forget that God provides. I try to do things all with my own strength. Jesus suffers with me and provides for every need I have, so I can breathe deeply knowing I am cared for.

Don’t give up! The Lord has a marvellous life planned for you. One of greatness. It will involve suffering because we can’t reach heaven without being tested and moulded like gold in fire. We can be so afraid of suffering. Yet some of the greatest things in life come with it. If we want to obtain any success in relationships or personal prestige, it takes work. Search out new interests and hobbies. I feel so alive when I am learning a new language or a dance.

In a homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, Father Nick said, “God’s heart is always for the suffering.” How wonderful! “How blessed are we to have a God who is determined to chase after us until we finally know and experience the wonders of His goodness and mercy!” (The Practice of the Presence of God: A 40-Day Devotion Based on Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God).

As I finish writing this piece, I am sitting on the balcony of my apartment with a blanket and tea. One of my greatest treasures is to write for the newspaper and share what’s on my heart. Not everyone wants to be so open with their struggles, nor do they need to be. I feel a special call to share that it’s okay to have a mental illness and there is healing and hope. And for this I am truly grateful. It banishes the feeling of discontent.

“I am the good shepherd, says the Lord: I know my sheep, and mine know me.” When you are running on empty and don’t know what to do, turn to Jesus, who can fill you up with love.

You can check out my podcast The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience available on popular streaming services.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s