The making of a void

The Making of a Void

There is a kind of loneliness that feels like a huge void has been opened up, and you’re broken on the other side. But there is one that crosses the void to bring connection. 

I’m still trying to understand why they avoided me.

They knew I was in a mess,  and I thought they were my friend, but they never contacted me.

They a-voided me. Break that word ‘avoid’ down.

The word void, in this sense, means an empty space, and that is what it felt like. It was like there was an empty space between them and me.

Loneliness and abandonment can kill. We were always meant for intimate community, but instead, we so often find empty voids in our relationships. No one is willing to cross a line to touch and engage the soul of a neighbor.

Have you ever felt that someone is a-voiding you? You don’t know why there is a void between you and them? Or perhaps you do know why, and it’s because of something that you have done or has been done to you.

You’re on the outside, and no one comes near.

Perhaps you’re doing the avoiding. Making sure there is a distance between yourself and them—sometimes, you need to do this to feel safe.

The Void

So who is my neighbor?

That was the question posed to Jesus.

Jesus tells a story and invites us to look through the eyes of the first person mentioned in this story—the half-dead victim of abuse.

Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance, a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. Luke 10:25-30

Imagine yourself as that man.

You’re half dead, eyes barely open, naked, and you’re slipping in and out of consciousness.

You see someone come, and a glimmer of hope springs up, but when they see you, they create a void. Then, a second person comes, and they do the same.

What goes on in your mind? ‘Will no one help’

It’s abuse to neglect the other that is in obvious need.

We say to ourselves in our defense that there are so many that cry out for our help. The victims of earthquakes, natural disasters, crime, and poverty, and we can’t help everyone. But perhaps that is not the point.

Perhaps we are called to do for one what we wish we could do for everyone. To cross the line and fill the void with one other soul.

Does God love me?

There is a question or a series of questions that I get continually asked. They are based around a central heart struggle – Does God love me?

I’ve been abused and hurt, and surely if God loved me, God would not have allowed this to happen. Surely God can fix this situation?

If God is good, then what is God good for?

Dan Allender states

‘Abuse provides the raw data that seems to prove that God is not good,’ the ‘devilishness of abuse is that it does Satan’s work of deceiving children about God’s true nature and encouraging them to mistrust Him. Dan Allender The Wounded Heart.

God steps into this broken world with all of us making broken world choices. God comes in the form of Jesus. Fully divine and yet fully human.

Jesus experiences the fullness of abuse – intentional and unintentional.

He experiences the darkness of the void. He knows the void you experience.

I’m unsure if this neglect of giving love and creating a void isn’t more abusive than a full-on physical attack. It’s more subtle and hidden.

This a-voiding by others can reinforce and strengthen a belief that you genuinely are nothing. Everyone else has their life together, but you don’t. As a result, you are further dehumanized through loss of connection.

Filling the void

I will wait for someone to come and fill the void. Someone who will step across the line and move into my world with grace and kindness. Someone to welcome me into their embrace and banish the darkness of the void.

‘On the cross, the dancing circle of self-giving and mutually indwelling divine persons opens up for the enemy; in the agony of the passion, the movement stops for a brief moment, and a fissure appears so that sinful humanity can join in.
We, the others – we the enemies – are embraced by the divine persons who love us with the same love with which they love each other and therefore make space for us within their own eternal embrace. Miroslav
Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, 129.

I am welcomed with their embrace.

The word ‘vicarious’ is one of my favorite words. It  simply means to serve instead of someone or something else

When someone steps across the line and enters my ditch with grace and love, I sense something of the nature of Christ filling the void and giving me hope.

I wait for someone like me who has dirt in their toenails to wander down, cross the line, and fill the void made by others.


Quotes to consider

  • No victim is responsible for having been abused. But abuse does provide strong reasons, potent stories, to ask, “Where was God? Does  He love me? Can I trust Him? If   can, what am I to trust Him for?” The devilishness of abuse is that it does Satan’s work of deceiving children about God’s nature and encouraging them to mistrust Him. Fearing to trust God, the abuse victim will naturally choose other gods to provide her [or him] with life, whether alcohol, promiscuity, or approval-seeking. Dan Allender The Wounded Heart
  • I think not touching a child for decades at a time is a form of injury. I  think withholding any expression of love until a young boy is a grown man is a form of emotional violence. And I believe that the violence men level against themselves and others is bred from just such circumstances. Terence Real, I Don’Don’tt To Talk About It
  • No one person can fulfill all your needs. But the community can truly hold you. The community can let you experience the fact that, beyond your anguish, there are human hands that hold you and show you God’s, faithful love. Henri Nouwen Inner voice of love
  • Beneath what our culture calls psychological disorder is a soul crying out for what only community can provide. There is no “disorder” requiring “treatment.” And, contrary to hard-line moralism, there is more to our struggles than a stubborn will needing firm admonishment. Beneath all our problems, there are desperately hurting souls that must find the nourishment only community can provide—or die. Larry Crabb – Connecting
  • We are saved by those whom we go to save, and both of us are then saved in spite of ourselves. There is a mysterious “third” which is doing the saving. Suffering for and with the other seems to be the only way we know that our lives are not about us. Richard Rohr -Job and the Mystery of Suffering

Questions to answer

  1. Where have you experienced the a-void?
  2. Who did Jesus cross the a-void to minister to?
  3. Do you think the neglect of giving love is worse than a full-on physical attack? Look through the eyes of the man in the ditch.

Further Reading


The Shape of You

Falling Into the Hands of Robbers and Thieves

Barry Pearman
Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

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