I’m just standing here, staring at the empty insides of my kitchen pantry.

For an embarrassing number of years, most of this closet’s storage space had been wasted on items long expired: brown sugar (which I’d used only to bake cookies that one time); all-purpose flour (whose sole purpose was to bake cookies that one time); baking powder (again, the cookies thing)—you get the idea.

But with a sudden onset of godlike focus and determination, I have transformed my overstuffed, purpose-lacking pantry into a pristine and shimmering vessel of glorious potential. I am saying “no” to useless clutter! I am saying “yes” to empty space! In this moment, I am deeply satisfied.

And then the moment is gone, and I’m struck by an overwhelming and irrational desire to buy more flour.

This is when it hits me that my kitchen pantry is kind of like my life.

Photo Credit: Bigstock (hemul)

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a lot of change – and all change, even when it’s desirable, means letting go of something old and familiar. Not all of the things I’m saying goodbye to have been useless to me; some of them – beliefs, work, and even certain relationships – have played a very important role in my life. But I can no longer thrive if I hold onto them. And in some cases, I’m letting go of something old without having something new to put in its place.

So I find myself staring at an empty space and wondering when and how and with what that space will be filled.

I love and hate empty spaces. I want to be free from all that I have outgrown, but I do not want to face the unknown. In fact, sometimes it’s easier to keep returning to an idea or a thing (or a person) that is harmful to me than it is to face the longing and uncertainty that come between letting go of the old and embracing the new.

This is the problem with hope.

Hope invites us to linger in the empty spaces without rushing to fill them with something – anything – just to avoid the pain of loss or the discomfort of longing.

Hope asks us to leave our certainty behind us and to let our imaginations run wild, at the risk of being disappointed and feeling foolish.

Hope tells us there’s more goodness and beauty waiting to fill us, if we can bear to be emptied in order to make room for something new.

A hope-filled life is costly, but a life without hope is far more so. A hopeless life is a limited life – clutter-filled, cramped, and awe-less.

So that empty space you find yourself staring at? Maybe it’s trying to awaken your imagination, so you’ll long for something new and wild and awe-inspiring with which to fill it.


Last month, Mandy Hughes joined Artisan as a therapist. Today, with this, her first post, she joins us as a blogger. We’re thrilled you get to meet her in this way and discover what we’ve already learned to trust about her: she’s thoughtful, caring, and she has earned her wisdom. To find out more about Mandy, you can CLICK HERE to read her bio. Or, to schedule a first appointment with her or another one of our therapists, you can CLICK HERE, and you will be taken to our online registration form.

Mandy Hughes

Mandy Hughes

Mandy is a licensed professional counselor. She counsels adults, adolescents, and groups and has a particular interest in helping survivors of trauma and abuse navigate their stories of harm with self-compassion instead of shame. Mandy is passionate about empowering her clients to live more integrated, vibrant and hope-filled lives.

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