About the Author

Bonnie Gray is the author of Sweet Like Jasmine, Whispers of Rest, wife, and mom to two boys. An inspirational speaker featured by Relevant Magazine and Christianity Today, she’s guided thousands to detox stress and experience God’s love through soul care, encouragement, and prayer. She loves refreshing your soul at...

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Reader Interactions


  1. Bonnie, In many ways you can be considered a missionary to point others to Jesus. You truly have a heart for Him and He will give you a greater ministry. I think you will be blessed if you listen to a missionary who was seriously wounded and how he is thinking about becoming more like Jesus to others. His name is Steve Saint. His father was also a missionary. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfPZ_bIRfmM As always, love & prayers dear one.

  2. Hello Bonnie.
    Your post resonates with my own journey in faith and life at the moment. I have experienced past trauma and my journey at the moment is to try and face that trauma in an effort to stop my life being so daily affected with the resultant post traumatic stress symptoms I suffer from as a result of the trauma. I struggle with feeling broken and unsafe but I am walking this journey toward healing with the help of Jesus. Many times I have asked God to take this away from me, heal me now I cry, however I know it is a journey to healing. I started my blog called Behind The Smile, because I thought perhaps my journey may help someone else on this journey to. It is not an easy journey and when you have no strength left to keep going I find Jesus steps in and somehow you keep walking, keep going and your faith is intact if not stronger through it all. Your post has helped me and will help others. Keep going on your healing journey, I know it is scary but when you come through the other side it will have been worth it. Turning and facing what we fear the most is the only way. God Bless.
    Behind The Smile.

  3. Hi Bonnie,

    Your words are reaching into a very deep place in my soul. I deeply appreciate that you are being transparent and raw. Others will benefit from your bravery and courage.

    I was in a very similar place ten years ago when my brother committed suicide.

    You speak of running away from that dark place, even avoiding it altogether. Yet, just like you, I found myself at a point in my life where there was no where to run to, and avoiding it caused more confusion and pain than just entering “the place of empty”. The fear and pain I was afraid of felt like fire. And aren’t we supposed to avoid and run away from fire?

    Yet, God was calling me to walk into the fire. The fire is where I would be refined.

    I read somewhere during this time that “God will meet you in the darkness”. I loved that, it gave me such encouragement. Because it gave me permission to stay in the darkness, and allow him to meet me there, to fold me into his arms.

    I was deeply grieving. I was in shock. I was numb and no longer the same person. This was new territory and I had no idea how to navigate it.

    All around me, I had people telling me to “hurry up and grieve”. There are steps, and it was expected that I go through the steps according to the world’s time.

    But, instead, I fought the world, and listened to God. He met me in the darkness, in His time, in my time.

    Time – that is exactly what was required.

    “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1

    In my waiting, healing came. I didn’t know it at the time, but God was working out my salvation for me. He just asked me to trust, to be patient, and to rest in Him.

    “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Phil. 2:12.

    Bonnie, I pray my words give you hope and encouragement. I am a new creature in Christ because of the darkness I walked through. I was a Christian before the suicide and I thought I had it all figured out. But, Christ had so much more to show me of Himself. He took me to the darkest places of my soul so that I could grow in deeper intimacy with Him.

    I am thankful for the journey. I would give anything to have my brother back. I am not thankful for his choice. But, without the journey from grief to redemption, I would not be living as passionately for Christ as I am right now. {I write my story of healing from grief at http://www.janas3dresses.com.}

    Let him meet you in The Place of Empty. Don’t run away. But walk slowly through while holding His hand.

    Peace and Light,


    • Jana,
      I believe those same words ‘God will meet you in the darkness’.
      I have experienced it for myself, and I believe that is the reason God puts struggles and pain in our lives. He WANTS to meet with us, but we often don’t make time for Him until we are desperate. I pray that you will continue to blossom in your faith and relationship with God in the midst of your healing.

  4. Thank you for sharing these words and your heart.

    Several years ago I was at my lowest point, my own place of empty if you will. I was struggling with an eating disorder which unfortunately (I found out later) effected my fertility. My husband and I walked the road of healing from anorexia and then walked down the crazy path of fertility treatments (for about 13 months). In the midst of our lows God never left us – I can say this with confidence. Jesus was with us each moment and I get tears in my eyes just thinking about His faithfulness. He held our hands through our place of empty and lead us to the other side. Praise God!

  5. Bonnie,
    Beautifully expressed, these words on finding the purpose of ’empty’. God always has purpose, and is always holding out relationship. It is a hard ‘learning’, that empty is often the place where we meet Him in more depth and see Him more clearly than ever. All of us struggle away from this place when we come too close. For me, life is at that point where each of my daughters is embarking on her own path, and I can easily feel the panic rise as I wonder who I am now, when so much of my life has been ‘mom’, so much of my identity defined in *doing* for them. My anxiety tends to come when I awaken in the deepest part of night and exhibits itself as a fear of *alone*. I am practicing the presence of God at those times of rising panic, and finding that His very real nearness in that focus is the one thing that brings peace. I had never connected all of this with the Gethsemane story before. Your words will be read and reread, and I am sure I will be passing them on. Thanking God right now for your ministry in His Word with your own story!

  6. This is a classic Bonnie. Thank you once again for opening yourself like this. You pulled on my heartstrings 🙂 Just as you once said, “To be understood is very powerful.” The words ‘Jesus knew’ and ‘This is a new kind of obedience, one of the highest callings…’ stood out for me, they begged to be acknowledged. God said through Isaiah that He will give us the treasures of darkness…And wham (!) right on the spot you shared one of those treasures. You can never have this kind of spiritual insight unless God has shown you His special places where His treasures are hidden like in darkness & pain. So yes Bonnie you are very special to God. We all are. We just let Him have His way & we step aside. Because in the end of every darkness & pain this God of Job always vindicates Himself & us. He is always right all the time.

    We are all broken and wounded in this world. Some choose to grow strong at the broken places. – Harold J. Duarte- Bernhardt.

  7. Dearest Bonnie:

    He has indeed been patiently waiting for you to collapse into His arms
    at the end of yourself
    and the beginning of Him

    praying for you while knowing you are in the best of care….

  8. Bonnie, as I read, I was thinking, “I’m cheering you on, girl! You can do this!!!” By the time I got to the end, I was overcome by own near-panic, knowing that this message is for me, too, as I face my childhood trauma again and anew plus our dire financial situation. Thank you, Bonnie! I’m scared, but I’m gonna do it.

  9. Bonnie, I am deeply touched, again, by your openness and your sharing from your heart. It’s so often the difficult, heart-breaking times that we go through that actually turn out to be the things that God uses to ultimately bring blessing and healing to us – and then, in turn, to others. And most of all, to bring us into deeper intimacy with Him. That has certainly been true for me – and yet, still, I try to resist trials and difficulties. I am thanking God for your vulnerability in sharing your brokenness – and am desiring to learn from you as you walk through your places of “empty”. All of us are broken and empty, and we all desperately need His love, mercy, and grace – every day. Praying for you …

  10. I am sitting here, crying now, feeling like God is still looking out for me. What a rough week this one has been, at times. I feel God making me wiser, but it’s frightening because wisdom shows me how inadequate and immature I still am. It makes me despair. There have been low points, but how dare I forget the high points too. Anyway, I was already quite upset this morning, and this is helping to bring peace to me, peace I cried out for this morning, saying, “God, do we ever REALLY get peace when things are falling apart?!” I think we can. He’s teaching me. Thank you for this. 🙂

  11. You have said, what I cannot say… for I am in the place of empty too. I have been here for a long, long time. Perhaps too long. Perhaps not. Surrender to the will of God and leaning on Him instead of trying to find new ways to “escape” this place on my own… in His time… may be the answer. God certainly has gotten my attention through your words of late.

  12. It was impossible for anyone to know or want to know MY ” empty place.” but you did and I know now Jesus did. Through my tears, I have hope I can make it through this day, broken, wounded, completely exhausted because My Savior is still there with His arms open to catch me, even if the whole world forgets me and my pain. thank you for putting my heart feelings into words.

    • Mary Fay,
      You are not forgotten in your pain and emptiness. You have a community of women here who are ready and willing to pray for you! You CAN make it through another day. Just reach out and ask for His strength. You can do all things through Him who strengthens you.

  13. Bonnie,
    I praise God for your deeply faith-filled words this morning! I am sad that you are in such a painful place, but rejoice that you have opened yourself to Him and that even in your pain you are reaching out to us. I am especially thankful, because I, too, am on empty. And I will be so blessed to pass your testimony onto 2 others who also are on empty. I am including a link to Linda Storey, who gives her witness and song, about her faith journey in times of trial. http://files.emfcdn.com/downloads/audio/podcasts/klovemsint_podcast6651_20110329.mp3 Your words and Linda’s (my son put me onto hers) reassure me of what I need to do: Trust Him. I pray for your healing, Bonnie! <3

  14. Thank you, Bonnie. I really needed this. The last two days have been a barrage of silly, but rough stuff and feeling like no one understands or cares. Feeling alone and vulnerable and old–losing stuff, sick, hurting, new little pains, not processing well. “Where is God?” Truth is, He has always been with me; He just was not fixing my “stuff” the way I wanted Him to. I lost my focus. I was in Bible Study and prayer, and He kept telling me He loved me, but I wanted Him to fix the “stuff.” He wanted me to trust Him.
    Thanks for bringing me back to reality with my precious Jesus.
    Lov’n Jesus,

  15. Hebrews 5:7-10 was the scripture that I clung/cling to while I am in the place of ridicule for my brokenness. God prepared me over and over again that spring was coming. I wrongly assumed that meant beautiful flowers and lush greenness, and while that’s true, what I forgot was the cultivating, tilling, weeding that takes place before His planting. But, He knew.

    Literally everyone in my life has walked away from me as God brought me to the season of tilling up the rocks weighing my heart down. Under my surface (me unaware my reality was unhealthy) laid rocks of being verbally, emotionally, spiritually and sexually abused by every relationship in my life. I wrestled that reality for almost 2 years, but God continued to beckon me to the truth. (My heart, even now, quickens for fear of not being believed!) So many tears, weeping and gut-wrenching pain has been shared with Jesus. On the nights I felt I was absolutely inconsolable I literally felt His warm, loving presence envelop me and I instantly drifted off to sleep. I never imagined literal aloneness and abandonment from those around me, but Jesus showed me He knows that abandonment well and understands.

    Bonnie, your sharing is extremely timely in my healing process. Beth Moore says in her book Breaking Free that those who are abused tend to need a process of healing. (I’m sure that sums up most of us!) And God gave me the picture of a terrified, abused, abandoned puppy shaking in the corner of her kennel as her new loving Daddy just sits and spends time at first so she gets used to Him and allows Him closer and closer as He shows her His genuine love. That’s me. He’s getting closer, planting the seeds in my heart and I’m really liking and loving Him.

    Thank you, dear sister. I am ever so grateful for your heart sharing. God bless you.

  16. Bonnie, this speaks to me in great volume!!! There are two “gethsamanes” in my life and both are incredibly significant.

    I am a veteran teacher and last year’s groups of students were lovely and awesome, with the exception of about 6. Those 6 were certainly bent on making my life a living hell and undermining my ability to teach. It was so difficult that i had administrators and counselors in my room to deal with the environment; during the last week of school, the counselor even volunteered to take them from my room for the balance of the year. At the end of the year, they had gotten to me so much that I wondered if I had made a mistake coming to this school.

    The second garden is actually my church. I am a part time employee, working only two days a week. The overall person in charge is a domineering person who has a vendetta against me and my husband, if we only understood why. We know that one person does not make a church and we work hard to take refuge in that. However, this person, in our opinion, dumbs things down, has no outward appreciation for the traditions of our church and constantly changes things that are time held traditions – liturgies and language, music – and is essentially a bully to the full time staff. How they continue to stay in charge is beyond me. We would leave except it is OUR church and we love the people who make up OUR church.

    As I look to the new school year, the summer has refreshed me and I am ALMOST excited to go back and see my “children”. We will see how quickly that continues to move forward. 🙂

    But Sundays come and the place where I should be able to seek and receive renewal and refreshment and feel the Holy Spirit is still dark and full of soldiers. My immediate boss is the person who brings great joy to my church experience and truly is the reason I find any motivation to go. But he is also persecuted.

    I pray that all of us can take heed and just hand it all over to God to handle for us, receive His strength, and radiate His love and glory.

  17. Thank you for writing this. I am at the lowest of lows now. That is all I have the will to write. But thank you for helping me find a place to try to begin to pray and be one with God. I know He’s here…I just don’t want to face any more trials. I’m tired.

  18. I can’t find the words to say I know, this post has hit me deep inside.

    Maybe I will come back later and try again.

    • Beth,

      Just read your blog about your season of change. You went through sooo much in that time yet were still able to “keep it all together” so it seems–I know it had to be through the guidance & assistance of almighty God giving you the strength to endure!

      I witnessed my own mother’s health decline and eventually go from dementia to sundowner’s. If you saw her regularly and were part of her weekly routine then she knew you. If it had been a long time since you saw her she would not recognize anyone. She finally succumbed to death quietly at home.

      I pray that you can enjoy this period of empty nesting and be proud that you were able with God’s help to be there for your parents in their hour of need!

  19. Your words, and the scripture verses you wrote out, offer a quickening to me this morning, Bonnie.
    Thank you for being real, for not hiding behind trite sentences and cliches. Thank you for sharing from your heart.
    God bless you.

    I am in a place where God is teaching me to remove all the masks I have learned to wear as I grew up. The masks to hide who I really am from the world, in order to protect myself from hurt. He is calling me to hand those masks over, to face myself as I am in Him and to receive His love. He first taught me see His love for me, and now he is challenging me to love myself.
    That has been a very difficult thing for me. To see me as He sees me.

    I am relating to your healing journey…facing the deepest darkest rooms, to have Him shine light and bring wholeness.

    • Merissa,

      I read your post about the many masks you hid behind. Have you seen or read the book “Grace for the Good girl” letting go of the try-hard life by Emily P. Freeman? In it she talks about the various masks women wear & the removal of them through Jesus.

  20. My sister gang raped as a preteen… my brother and father’s crude, rude and degrading friends, Jim, Jack, the family “doctor”… us having children in a world where men don’t nurture and protect but demean with every word and acton, and suddenly in that place of sheer fear and panic for them learning and seeing that there are all kinds of Jims and Jacks and real capable doctors that won’t destroy your peace of mind because they LOVE like men who understand boundaries and nurturing and compassion and kindness. God can heal our broken fearful hearts and give us strength to protect, teach and give our children the love they need to go out in the world with the courage to be all he has created us for, knowing they had the kind of family and community that protected and loved them appropriately. But that place of panic where there is no faith is so alone and we are not meant to be alone, without God and those who would nurture one another with respectfulness and kindness. Prayer in that place feels so fruitless but it is only as we step out in faith (for me it was caregiving many neighborhood children) and give and receive that care from God and man and take that hope for a better world that we find some peace. We need to give that and receive it by nurturing those friendships and relationships that respect your boundaries and give a place of stability and strength from which to draw on.
    I pray for all you ladies who have experienced this great loneliness and panic and especially this author with the courage to share the journey and say it as it is! May we find strength in knowing we are never alone, God is with us and brings everything to light. Have faith!

  21. My sister gang raped as a preteen… my brother and father and their crude, rude and degrading friends… us having children in a world where men don’t nurture and protect but demean with every word and innapropriate acton, and suddenly in that place of sheer fear and panic for our children learning that there are all kinds of people who won’t destroy your peace of mind because they LOVE like people who understand boundaries and kindness. God can heal our broken fearful hearts and give us strength to protect, teach and give our children the love they need to go out in the world with the courage to be all he has created us for, knowing they had the kind of family, caregivers and community that protected and loved them appropriately. But that place of panic where there is no faith is so alone and we are not meant to be alone, without God and those who would nurture one another with respectfulness. Prayer in that place feels so fruitless but it is only as we step out in faith (for me it was caregiving many neighborhood children) and give and receive that care from God and man and take that hope for a better world that we find some peace. We need to give that and receive it by nurturing those friendships and relationships that fulfill you and respect your boundaries and give a place of stability and strength from which to draw on.
    I pray for all you ladies who have experienced this great loneliness and panic and especially this author with the courage to share the journey and say it as it is! May we find strength in knowing we are never alone, God is with us and brings everything to light. Have faith! I’m still waiting on my Gid and will never stop having this hope in me now that I have found my way back to Him. God is love.

    • All that you just wrote here in this comment, Liz really resonates with me! My husband and I experienced something else that felt a lot like rape but was not the actual horror of one, yet we have felt much the same in the recovery process…fear and panic, feeling so alone…and yes, prayer and cliches and verses quoted are meaningless. But giving and receiving love and care and finding places that ARE truly safe…a place to actually LIVE the things we pray for, find in the Word instead of just SAYING them…what freedom and hope and stability and respect and strength! All of those things are helping us move from a place of fear to a place of freedom. Hanging on to our Hope in God with you!

  22. Dear Bonnie – Thanks so much for sharing what’s going on in your life. I’ve been in this place for the past year & a half. Started with losing my husbands business, losing our health insurance, getting food assistance, having to do chapter 7, having to work & watching my husband take a job making half of what he did and working twice the hours. Then losing James – one of the kids that lived with us three days a week in my sons band. He was hit by a tractor trailer and had recently turned 17. My life & priorities have beyond changed & I will never be the same. My only hope is Jesus <3 He is allowing me to be in an unknown place in this life. It's second by second & I cling to the promise that He will never leave me or forsake me & that if He promises to feed the birds then He will take care of me. My hearts aches for you as you journey through this time of growing, but I'm also reminded that Jesus loves us soo very much to grow us into someone who will be able to help others because we've been there <3 Simply Living By Faith – Stacey

  23. Bonnie,

    All I can say for now is, that I feel empty and lost. I feel that I don’t have the strength to keep on going. I know Jesus is there, but I can’t keep going. – Wanda

    • Just by your reading Bonnie’s post and being honest about where you are Wanda….You will keep going! Being in the empty place is scary and hard but as we are real with ourselves and others as well as with the Lord…the door is still open for Him to come in and be with you and heal and comfort you…we just have to keep putting one faith foot at a time in front of us…little by little. <3 Diane

  24. Oops, sorry, rewrote my comment with no names but found it had ‘gone through’. In this case I would then ask for prayer for the victimizers and their families who may have been raised in places of instability and lacking in respectfulness and safety and need the grace of God and learning that there are other ways of being treated and ways of creating family and community that will bless ourselves and our children.

  25. Oh, how you have spoken directly to me this day. My whole life is falling apart. Yet, He brings me here, to these words, and this assurance. Thank you so much for opening yourself, to help open me.

  26. So blessed by your writting. Some days I just delete the emails as I’m not in place to hear words of encouragement that just seem to fall flat for me. Today I was very blessed to not feel so alone in this place. As for me, I’ve been grieving from loss and abuse. Wanting this all to just be over…Felt I had ‘made it through’….finished the race…fought the good fight…and still feeling so empty and lost…while sitting on the rock all the same…helps to just know it’s all part of the journey and to keep moving forward toward the light. <3

  27. Bonnie

    Thank you so much for sharing transparently..and especially how the message of Christ in you makes all the difference in the world.

    Your journey is so similar to mine. I am now a grandmother of 4 precious grandsons. But when I was raising my own children, I started into panic attacks over many things, including mysterious health problem (which are now understood) that no one at that time would believe. I always was one to be able to “just do it!”, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. The Lord used the panic time in my life to draw me into emptiness…which ended up being filled with HIM!

    That was many years ago now. But I’d like to invite you and your readers to visit my blog to hear my story and read about how the Lord has led this His branch of His through life, abiding in HIM! Praise His holy Name!

    For the post about my panic attacks, “The Father’s Pruning”:

  28. Praying for you, Bonnie. I have wandered through the empty places from time to time. I know both the darkness in the thick of it, and the light on the other side. He is faithful,…always faithful.

  29. I am so empty. In the past I could burry my self in work. Now work ( I am self employed) has slowed down and I hear the Lord say trust me. The bills are due. What if I can’t pay my car payment on time? What if I miss due dates on bills. I feel like my back is to the wall. Turning away from the Lord in hopes that he will pursue me isn’t the answer ( this is an old habit)
    Another way is to try and earn His blessing. Lord would you bless me if I was ” good” perhaps it was because I didn’t tithe? I keep thinking it is because of something wrong I did. If I knew, I would fix it.
    The truth is the Lord is asking me to trust Him. I have been fighting him wildly .

    But this morning once again I hear trust me.

    So I am with you in this place of utter emptiness looking to the Lord to save me.

    Doing for me what I can’t do for myself.

    I can’t control any of it.

  30. What wonderful posts you all have left here or us to read and take to heart. Thank you all.

  31. Dear Bonnie,
    I can so relate to you in soooo many ways. I know what it is like to suffer from anxiety attacks, that is one reason I have subscribed to your blog. I have come a long way in my journey as far as fear ( anxiety attacks ) go. Much to much for me to write about here. I just know when God delivers, he really delivers. Is it God’s will for us to fall into fear places? of course not….however, these are the places that God has used most in my life to conform me into his likeness. The Great King David said….” when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.

    I just want to say thank you for being real and sharing your heart. The place of empty when placed in the master’s hand becomes plentiful.

    In His Hands, Is 49:15,16 please read Bonnie

  32. Jesus knew the devil was going to have a field day with His body and He knew the horrible torture He would have to endure. The likes of which none of us will ever endure, but in spite of that and in spite of His crying out to our Dad to take it all away, He submitted to His fate. I, personally, don’t have that kind of strength. I would have collapsed from fear but we are truly thankful and blessed not to have to go through that because Jesus already did. And He did it all for Love. His Love for us was greater than the horrors of His torture and death. His Love for our Father was greater than that, too.
    When we face our places of darkness where fear can overtake us and smother us like a thick, wooly blanket over our heads, we must turn to Jesus, who already knows exactly how that feels. With Him we can become stronger, face whatever it is that we fear and through Him, conquer it and get rid of it once and for all. This doesn’t happen automatically and it takes time but Jesus is really there for you and desperately wants to help you. I like a quote from John Wayne which goes something like this: “Courage is being afraid but saddling up, anyway.”

  33. Bonnie,

    Thank you for being so real, open & honest. It can be really hard to admit that as a Christian you have anxiety and depression issues in your life. No one is perfect & we all have fears at one time or another. Praying God will see you through this season in your life & bring peace back to you.

    Thank you to all the other women writers on this blog. You have truly opened my eyes to all of the blessings which I have. I tend to complain a lot about “minor” trivial things…It helps me tremendously to realize that my complaints are nothing compared to what others are going through & I will pray for everyone here!

  34. Hello Bonnie,
    “When You Face The Place of Empty” so resonated with me this Sunday afternoon. A Sunday that once again I chose not to attend church. A time that come October of this year I will have been struggling with the emptiness for 4 years now.
    After reading your words today, I get it. I think though I have always known this. So why is it taking so long for the journey to travel from my head to my heart. To the acceptance that I need to totally surrender (which I feel like I have over and over). Nothing is sticking yet.
    After years of living and believing that all was good and everyone was good and everything will always work out one way or another – I experienced great betrayal. Not just once but several times within the last 4 years. Learning that people by nature are not good. Where had I been living? In a cave? Why did I have to learn that folks can be mean and hurtful? Why now am I so lonely I can’t stand it? Why is my health declining when I am trying so hard to do better? I had the panic attacks. I had clinical depression. I have made progress and know I DON’T want to go to that deep dark hole and get sucked in again. I know God loves me – Fill my cup Lord – I am still running on empty……waiting.

  35. Thank you, Bonnie – for sharing your life with us, the struggles and the triumphs. We appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and real with us. As a friend wrote to me not long ago – deep calls to deep. The dark times are not in vain.

  36. Bonnie,
    Thank you for your honesty in sharing what you’re going through. Thank you for pointing the way to the only one who can walk through our struggles with us. Thank you for caring about others who will find inspiration, strength and courage through your words. You have encouraged me!

  37. Thanks Bonnie for sharing this part of your story and for giving me the realisation of another part of my story. I am facing the issue of singleness at the age of 45, as well as the question of what my life is for? (until june 2012 Iknew exactly what my life was for,However things have changed somewhat). Up till now singleness has not been a problem, because of other areas of my life allowed me to rest in the idea of singleness. Changes in me because of healing in some areas, now mean I feel the loneliness and the pain that goes with singleness. I am now facing a future alone, I have to trust Jesus to provide.
    Thankyou for your honesty. I am not in a place of empty like you, but I am feeling my place of empty and I need to be honest about it and accept it and the possibility that it may never change, or mr. right may just be around the next couple of bends.

  38. This week I hit a rock bottom of sorts, one that I didn’t even know existed…wish I could share more details but cannot right now as it involves someone that I love…. but your words were such a comfort. I couldn’t even get to the place of Scripture to soothe my angst-filled soul, nor could I hear God through the black place where I sat. I am no longer in that (black) place, but I now understand that there is more work, more healing to be done in my life. Jesus. Such a rock. Jesus, my Saviour. Jesus *has* to be the answer for me because nothing else can touch this darkness when it overwhelms me. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in sharing.

  39. “You don’t have to be strong. I will be strong for you.”

    This brought tears to my eyes as I read this. It’s exactly where I am right now. Thank you for putting into words what I’m feeling.

  40. Thank you for being brave and telling your story. I think we diminish our pain because, well, look at so-n-so’s loss, there she is without a husband, or her without her son. We pale our pain in comparison to others. Your words here remind me that eventually we need to face it and feel it and not be ashamed to do it.

  41. Beautifully written and as usual, perfect timing. Sharing this for a friend who is exactly in this place right now. And for me, I love this ‘If you’re on the leg of your faith journey where your place of safety has become a place of uncertainty, Jesus is folding your hand into His today.’ What a wonderful statement and a reminder for all of us to walk with Him. Thank you.

  42. “surrendering to accept where God is leading us — especially into a place of loss and pain — is a surrender to trusting God as Abba, by yielding to His will and goodness in this way.”
    Yes, that is where I am coming to. I say “coming to” because I don’t feel I have “arrived” at understanding this or being fully surrendered. That’s going to be ongoing.
    Being missionaries and then having it all ripped out from under us….being brought down to nothing, dreams gone, plans gone, many things just totally not possible any more helped me face the fact that I don’t need to have a plan and accomplish it. It helped me see too that God does not need me to do his work in the world. Yes, he can and does use me and others to reach others, but it happens the way HE has planned. I can look out into the future and think and plan that it needs to happen (____) way but His way is so beyond that and involves what are maybe in my mind “detours” and really are exactly what he had in mind. When I let go of all that I thought I had to do or control….wow! Freedom on so many levels!
    Still much to process, yes. And so so comforting to know He is right here with me. NOW. And in everything. That is something he keeps on impressing on me, and also that he loves me. Period.
    Keep on writing girl! I am rootin’ for you!

  43. Bonnie, I am here in my safe place, my home. It is here I raised children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren. A place where I could come and relax, but now it is becoming my place of darkness, my empty and I have to face it there is no other direction to go.

    Two years ago I was here, but it was just a dim place where I struggled through breast cancer. I freed myself and climbed to the top again w/ my savior, church and family helping me up. Have you ever played Chutes and Ladders w/your kids? I climbed that ladder to the top again.

    Now I have gotten on the chute that goes clear from the top to the bottom. There is no way out. I am slipping down slowly, it will probably be several years before I reach the bottom. I look around and see that I am in my safe place but it is becoming the place of empty now. Since March my husband has been in rehabilitation for a hip replacement and then a month later for a stroke. And now we wait.

    I am in this place I love most of the day. I take us to therapy, Doctors and if he feels like it, to church. I am afraid. I am in my safe place but I am afraid. Each time he cannot make his legs work it gets darker. Each time he can’t remember what is happening it gets emptier. I am on the computer w/friends but it is still lonely here. I don’t feel safe anymore. I have to look at what is ahead and realize there is nothing I can do about any of this. I have to face it.

    Thank you for your insight and encouragement. Sooner or later I will drink this cup. Thank you for showing me that even though I can’t see what is coming God already has.

    Thank you Bonnie.

  44. Empty. It sounds so bad. And I know it can be. But then you consider the empty that begs filling. Ahhhhh, the refreshing of that filling. I was empty, after that day. Begging to be filled. Day by day. In the pain of it all. Some days I see little reminders, and some of it still stings. It may always sting. But the reminders also cement in my heart the faithfulness of the Lord. We can weep and wail while in pain. Even while being filled. I have found in all things it is worth facing the empty place, to then face the filled and refreshed place. Can I just share that for a fleeting time I once thought empty meant dead. But I am filled, ALIVE and now grateful for the empty place. Thanking the Lord for walking with us through everything, never leaving us, and understanding us COMPLETELY and having compassion on us.

  45. Bonnie,
    What Beautiful, Powerful words that have touched the lives of so many people in painful places. Thank you for the amazing way you have related our struggles to Jesus’ It is comforting to know that many people are in the same place as I am and that even Jesus himself faced the same feelings. God Bless you for your words which seem just for me today but appear to be also ‘just for’ many others who’ve commented here. Praise God for His unending love and faithfulness! He will never let us go 🙂

  46. So I sat down to my e-mails — very “empty” and feeling the need for soul-refreshing . We just made a major move to another state and I’m feeling the losses and the pain and the need to run to my normal places that feed my soul — Opening my e-mails — I see your devotional — “When you Face the Place of Empty” –the one right on the top–cued up just for me from God Himself — THANK YOU !! I needed this tonight in a big way — Felt like you just pulled up a chair with a cup of coffee and spoke right into my heart. God knew …

  47. Hi,
    I know all about anxiety and took medication for post-partum stress, which helped me feel better although I think I was given too high a dose as I got a headache which is associated with excessive seretonin and when I came off I felt like I was too hard on myself for messing up on small things. I also found that I opened up to people I probably shouldn’t have and became a bit impulsive and unconcerned about how I was coming across.

    Anyways, since we moved to a new and bigger house my son has anxiety and he finds it helpful to take L-theanine also found naturally in tea. He has Asperger’s Syndrome so badly other Christian’s tell me its not Asperger’s it is Autism. I often feel scared for him and myself and what the future holds for us, but I am trusting God and getting him ABA with a speech therapist and sending him to a Christian school and hoping that we get our funding and that he isn’t totally slaughtered next year.

    Please keep me in your prayers and pray that we will have a good year and find acceptance amoung the Christiain community.


  48. Thank you Libby!
    I clicked on panic attacks and am in shock, Faith Barista is describing me!
    “I want you to speak — in your full voice”…..
    I had had a full busy eventful life and, with a child, wammmo! Strong enough to raise and love him appropriately and suddenly given this?
    What a struggle and I’m not the only one….
    so many ladies here coming to terms with what we need to finish, finding our voices that wanted strength for ourselves and those we love being more honest about what we need and what we didn’t get but how we can go through it in fear and faith.
    Faith Barista, Bonnie Gray, thank you for sharing this.

    • Yes, I felt the same way Liz. She’s describing me!
      No, you are not alone. May we all continue to speak truth to each other and truly love each other to help this healing process.

      • Panic is so isolated and when I read your courage (Libby) in your and your husbands situations and your ability keep faith and console I really appreciate that confirmation from you, so like a good neighbor or friend over when we can laugh confess move on with better understanding. Very selfless.
        Bonnie’s opening up this kind of deeply personal grief in this place of anonymity where one can explore and hear stories from such a vast group of people is a blessing.
        Praying for all of you and for those in my life and past who hurt so much and need this faith in their hearts, as I go about a busy week with a lighter heart and deeper understanding.
        Hope is always alive when we leave our time of rest/renewal/chairs and just live!

      • Panic is so isolated and when I read your courage (Libby) in your and your husbands situations and your ability keep faith and offer consoling words of encouragement. I really appreciate that confirmation from you, so like our neighbors over this weekend when we laughed, confessed dissapointments, moved on with a lighter heart.
        Bonnie’s opening up this kind of deeply personal grief in this place of anonymity where one can explore and hear stories from such a vast group of people is a blessing.
        Praying for all of you and for those in my life and past who hurt so much and need this faith in their hearts, as I go about a busy week with deeper understanding.
        Hope is always alive when we leave our time of rest/renewal/chairs and just live!

  49. My “place of empty” came recently when I realized I was suffering from Post Partum Depression and needed help. I’m getting treatment now, but I’ve chosen to walk this journey in relative anonymity for the time being so it gets lonely sometimes. It does help to remember that whatever I’m going through, Jesus KNOWS how it feels and He’s right there. But though I’m growing stronger and recovering, I’m still afraid to share with the rest of my friends and family about what I’m going through. I’m afraid of judgment and lectures and coulda-woulda-shouldas. I do feel that someday God will give me the go-ahead to write about this on my blog, but for now, I feel this sort of permission to just be quiet and savor the healing and the ability to enjoy life again. And that’s okay with me. 🙂

  50. I so needed to read this today. I spend a lot of time feeling so alone in my empty. The reality of some of my biggest convictions for living never coming about is overwhelmingly crushing sometimes.

    Knowing that any way I would’ve turned when I met my first difficult decision was going to lead to a life of heartache and a hard time trusting.

    There are a lot of days when I’d love to just run away from this place. If not for my children I certainly would’ve already done so. I spend so much time fighting thoughts of “this isn’t fair!” & “Why me?” & “how can I get there from here?”

    Thank you for sharing your heart & your encouragement! His timing is perfect in everything!

  51. Song of Solomon 8:5 “Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover/beloved?” In my desert places I’ve found that with each cycle through, I learn/see/experience a new ‘side’ of the LORD – a new character trait if you will. My 1st desert experience I came out KNOWING Him as “Redeemer”, my 2nd desert experience I came out KNOWING Him as “Triune GOD – Father, Son & Holy Spirit”, my 3rd desert experience I came out KNOWING Him as “Lover”. All that to say, our walk with the LORD comes in seasons. Desert places can seem vacuous, dry, scary. But once you survive the season and look back, it was where HE watered your very soul. There IS a purpose to it all. How can we ‘lean’ on our Beloved/Lover if we remain strong in and of ourselves? He seeks a Bride – perfect and spotless . The cleansing work hurts. Lean dear one, lean. He will carry you through. When you reach the other side of this desert season you will be walking again, but with a limp/leaning. Embrace the weakness, surrender the hard things of control & understanding. This HARD season is SO worth it! I wouldn’t miss them for the world. HE who began a good work in y-o-u is Faithful to complete it. Limping daughters of the King have a Divine fragrance that draws a Bridegroom. Praying for you dear one, to have just enough measures of strength, endurance, grace and peace to traverse this desert experience.

  52. Thank you for sharing your story. As I am seeking God to help me overcome anxiety — and too often trying to avoid drinking the cup — I am also learning to surrender to trusting in His love. You will be in my prayers for healing and strength.

  53. I’m so glad you’re back, Faith Barista! You inspire me :). You are a courageous woman to share your innermost struggles…thank you!!

  54. Thank you for the encouragement. I am in this place, this waiting, knowing that God is here, but needing so much. I feel like I am in a place where no one can understand. I am so tired of “feeling” I just want healing and victory and mostly PEACE!

  55. It’s hard to stop the tears from falling…this so exactly captures where I have been lately. I hate this place of darkness, I think because my spirit is calling out for the light and some hope that it won’t always be this way and that there is some purpose in this. In my head I know there is and know that God is not surprised by this empty place, but this head knowledge has yet to become heart knowledge. Awaiting the day when it will…

  56. Today I am awaiting the results of a lump under my arm. As a breast cancer survivor, this is really difficult. Thank you for your words today. He is enough — even as I wait.

  57. I know this may sound cliche` but I believe at the point of greatest breakthrough, at the precipice of restoring all that has been stolen, here comes our right- on- time God , in His perfect season and time God, to rescue us, sometimes from ourselves. Never thought Jesus’ experience in the garden of Gethsemane as a panic attack, but the world’s clinical description is there to read for all of us to see. So now why can’t we see and really believe Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said He is well acquainted with all our infirmities, not one is He not familiar with? That was a WOW! moment for me. Bonnie, greatly beloved of God, hold on, and just stay encouraged by your own words, each and every day, every step of the way in this. Arms wrapped tight around you, in love and appreciation for your heart and your bravery. Great blessings await you on the other side.

  58. Wow Bonnie…I think you have a lot of courage to share what is so completely personal and sacred to you. So so powerful and encouraging. It’s a gift to know that there are lots of us on this journey toward trusting God and allowing him to touch our woundedness together; and that although we will never fully arrive, we can live in this moment fully with Him. Thank you!!

  59. Bonnie

    I too was brought to my knees by a foot injury. I have struggled with anxiety and worry for half my life but it has progressively gotten worse over the past year! I have prayed God would take it away and have shoved it under the rug for as long as I could and it has fully manifested itself as multiple symptoms! Then i fell on vacation and hurt “sprained” my ankle or so well call it sprained until im told otherwise! An it all came crashing down,no more Im helping others, im now relying on everyone else to do everything and Until I read your blog post I hadn’t realized maybe God is telling me its time to confront what I’ve tried to hide most of my life! I too have been flooded with panic attacks and anxiety and boy it is scary! Praying for you!

  60. Bonnie,
    Your post last week gave me the resolve to finally seek out help for the issues in my past that haunt me. God never ceases to amaze me with the ways he speaks to my heart.

  61. Bonnie:
    I would enclose you in a hug if I could! Sometimes our cry to grow brings us lower than we could ever imagine. But Christ himself experienced “every” weakness common to man – including panic attacks, fear, and emptiness. I have, too. During my worst bout of grief my only sanctuary was that very same Garden of Gethsamane bringing me closer to the Lord than anything else – I only felt relief and comfort kneeling next to Jesus in his agony of Spirit, realizing that His love was closer than the pain. “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God. . . ” not even panic! That love is the liner between the panic and the ‘deepest’ you. Looking back, it will be a bitter sweet time you’re going through, experiencing a painful, ugly part of the world, but even more ‘real,’ a stronger reality of God’s love. I pray that God will infuse you with new facets of His love through grace. I’m praying for you, Bonnie!

  62. When we are weak, He is strong. That is the best place to be even though it can be very scary. I often act strong on the outside while trembling inside. I’ve avoided situations when my vulnerability could possibly be seen. But over the years I’ve tried to do the opposite. But it’s a slow journey of learning to trust.

    I recently watched a video of Catherine Martin of Quiet Time Ministries. She mentioned something that resonated with me.

    Trust is: Total Reliance Under Stress & Trial

    God is trustworthy.

    We may be weak but He is strong.

    We can rely on Him under stress and trial.

    Blessings and love,

  63. When I went through my trial and had to rely completely on God, I learned He is strong when I am weak…so weak I couldn’t push away the enormous, dark fears. I’d been brave and done a lot to push away the hurts and continue on in my life. But the burdens got too heavy. It happens to many of us. We continue on with the burdens deep within, and we don’t know we haven’t let them go. That’s when I hit the wall and couldn’t climb over it. But…God came in that darkness and led me out one prayer at a time. Years later, I am confident in His love and strength and know He can lift my burdens from me and heal my wounds. I developed a different, more resilient faith in my crucible of darkness. It wasn’t just words anymore; it was a part of me I couldn’t see or touch. I had to surrender my image of myself and realize He was my Father and with Him I was whole. The rest was just me trying to pull myself up and away from the brokenness. Now, I know rest in Him that fills me with peace.

  64. Hi Bonnie,
    You are among friends. Women who understand some of what you are experiencing or else we understand what it means to be in that place of desperating needing God. We each have our own journey to walk through. In my darkest place where my world was falling apart both mentally & physically. He was there. You are seeing the mercy & grace of God & you will never be the same…in a wonderful way! Grace & Peace to you my sister & prayers coming your way:) You WILL recover & be all that God has made you to be which is amazing! Keep writing… walking forward as He gives you grace to do it! You are not alone! Kathy, St. Louis

  65. Bonnie –
    I am behind on my reading, so I am just reading this now as I sit with my coffee and get ready to start my day (which actually started a couple of hours ago) LOL!
    Plus I knew your post would affect me greatly because 1) Your writings always do & 2) I’m not in the best place either and your words could be my words and it hurts to see them there at times.
    Our Lord is faithful – praise God! But when our circumstances bounce all over the chart, it’s hard to stay committed at times. As sinful humans, we are trained to look for happiness. As Christians, we are taught to seek joy. My happiness may wax and wan but thankfully my joy can stay consistent due to it being based on Who I know in my heart and not my circumstances. Were it not for that, I don’t think I would keep plugging along some days. 🙂
    Thanks be to God that our joy isn’t based on happiness. Paul sang praises to the Lord while bound in jail. When my circumstances steal my happiness, I picture that scene and remind myself that my joy, alive even in suffering, isn’t based on this world and I need, so desparately need to praise Him more now than ever, because I am NOT going through this alone.
    I’m glad you know He is always there and I know that His strength in you will take you to a better place in faith & heart as you grow through this. My prayers are with you daily. God bless –

  66. I have been sitting with the title of this post for several days…
    It is just like God to provide these understanding words…
    I have been living this for the past 9 years!!
    Have taken 3 God-directed journeys to that place of abuse, confusion, rage, fear … that place of empty.
    I just returned from NYC (totally provided for by the Holy Spirits leading) and was in the presence of the original painting of the Garden of Gethsemane that is housed at Riverside Park Church…
    Sitting i that little room… the Holy Spirit calmed my heart … that place of “fullness” and “joy” …
    Following the Holy Spirits leading into what appears to be that place of empty… (it doesn’t make sense that we would inflict even more pain and shame onto an already “wounded beyond repair” heart) Yet, in the quiet, in the stillness, “In the Waiting” (Gregg Long song) … with the darkness, with the deepest pain, with the empty… is where fullness of joy resides… entering in that place of empty has become an adventure to see how God is going to love me in that moment of surrender.
    It worth the risk to sit in that place of empty… Be Still… STOP THE BUSY!! …
    For me, in my journey… sitting in that place of empty has become that place of fullness of joy place… I can feel it on my fingertips… I long for His embrace… as I scooch father and farther into my place of empty I’m not afraid any more… hands out-stretched… vulnerable and longing…

  67. By the time I was done reading your post, I could barely breathe.

    I am just 2 weeks away from the first anniversary of my husband’s death. It’s been 2 and a half years since we first received his pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

    Jesus has held my hand and propped me up throughout the entire ordeal but in the last couple of weeks things have been different. I believe that He is leading me into a different type of grieving that is wholly dependant upon Him. I don’t think I realized that fully until I read your post. He works in wonderful ways. Thank you for your bravery and willingness to share. Bless you on your journey.

  68. Had my first panic attack last week. Completely embarrassed and ashamed feeling dirty somehow, as if I lacked faith in the power of my Heavenly Father. I sit here crying feeling His love, having the hope He is healing me. And to think He also shared such pain and despair . He knows me inside out and felt, feels the same pain. Praise You Jesus, for Your ways are higher then mine

  69. Very nice web-site Bonnie.

    Love this quote, “God cannot greatly use a man who has not been greatly broken.”

    It’s the brokeness in us that enables us to give compassion and comfort to the hurting, and allows us to walk in other’s shoes. It is God who brings us into brokeness for his own purposes so that we can better comfort others. He has a plan if we are willing.

    Of course I’d rather never have a broken heart; but compassion is the beautiful gift that comes with brokeness if we say yes. Brokeness gives one the ability to speak the languages of the broken hearted. It is a paradox.

    God knows our frame. He knows we are mere dust. We can lean on him & comfort others with the comfort that he comforts us with. What is more beautiful than kindness and comfort in this broken world?