Giving Permission to Hunger

After a day together — of filling up that bucket of hers with cuddles and kisses and long minutes-turned-into-hours of time, with our elbows bumping up against each others’ — came the barrage of questions.

“Can we have ice cream tonight, Mommy?”

“Can I stay up past bedtime?”

“What about a slice of your fresh bread, before dinner?

“Would I be able to get another doll?”

“Could I get a camera of my own so I can take pictures?”

They were peppered in between my instructions for setting the table and pouring drinks and picking up the days’ detritus, disguised. I didn’t catch how interconnected they were right at first. But that night I saw the pattern.

We’d been home for just a few months with her, this one whose childhood was marked by deeper hunger deeper what food could fill, and nearly every time we poured into that former-void of hers she came out clamoring for stuff. Becoming more filled in that place where her lack was most deep only made her fear the next time she might be in want. And this child who had only known a few months of being a daughter had had a lifetime to dream of what might finally meet her little girl needs.

Hunger is tough to silence.

And I know this well.

Years earlier, I paced our circular floor plan before the world woke up to alarm clocks and coffee and schedules, saying “I want more of You” into the seeming void of my own long-night.

Morning after morning I prayed and filled pages of my journal with the same request. I want to know more of You, God. 

Because I was still needy.


It was as if He’d dried up my circumstances, all to leave me thirsty. The quick fixes weren’t fixing me when marriage had rubbed me raw and very little, externally, brought me joy — or even a laugh — and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d nurtured dreams for my life.  Most all of what marked those last few childless years of ours was thirst. Want. I look back and page my way through line after journaled line of that same prayer on different days across different months and see how the external drought created a craving I’d not known before.

I craved like she did. It’s the universal ache. This vague ache hung in my mind for most of my life but only emerged as a prayer when I just couldn’t contort my circumstances into something that I could get excited about.

I asked: I want to know more of You, God, with no obvious answer and that continual asking only created a desire for more of what I hadn’t yet tasted in Him. It was a strange cycle.

I was living in this unusual juxtaposition of knowing I wanted “more” from my own personal reality and experience with God — but He so happened to seem silent at this very point in my life. More of what? I didn’t know. More than what I knew, then, of Him.

Winter BranchMJ

So I continued to ask.

Hunger is awkward. It creates a space to receive Him like nothing else, but yet the gaps between what I desire and what I’m living surface, and I’m like that alert, former-orphan scrambling to fill them. On any given day when life bears down — when that child pushes the same button she did the day before, the list is longer at the end of the day than it was at the beginning, and the dishwasher breaks — my mind kicks into autopilot and I search for ways to help me coast through these obvious gaps.

But each one of them is purposed towards the hunger.


Those holes — that friend who says something that sends you spinning, another day of unseen mundanity that makes you want to crawl out of that mommy-skin of yours, the co-worker who got the accolade for your sweat-equity, the prayer you’ve been praying for a decade, unanswered — are all opportunities to press in to hunger.

Because hunger is His doorway.

That which our world has conditioned us to avoid is holy opportunity.


I scurry to plug the gap of loss or lack — and instead discover that this loss was intended to leave me praying the prayer that changes my insides, while I wait: God, I want more of You. Our world lulls us into envisioning a static version of God and a static experience with Him, where hunger is positioned to awaken life in my dead parts to His living reality.

Every dream, thwarted (even momentarily), every circumstance stalled, every heart-pain, is a place to set up a sign post that says: Jesus, I want to know You more. Here.

If I can not only give myself permission, but encouragement, to stay in that awkward place of holding desire, from within, and walking out lack in my experience — all the while, praying this prayer — I just might partner with Him in making my heart ready to receive those moments when He breaks in to show me a new side of Himself.

Almost weekly she prays, unprompted, “thank you for giving me a family.” She squeals on “family days” and sandwiches herself between her daddy and me with her eyes clamped shut, soaking it all in. Tonight she left us all love notes, tucked in beside our dinner plates, in her still-broken English script.

Her years of hunger carved a well from which she now draws.


And isn’t it fitting that we say, right here, I want to take advantage of this moment of ache — this daily gap or yawning hole in my circumstances — to press in to who He is and not back away?


If you haven’t yet, I’d encourage you to consider trying out the habit of adoration — this little practice that is ever-so-slowly making me say “Father, I’ll find You in any circumstance.”  Here is March’s adoration prayer guide to give you a kick-start.

March Adoration 2013_edited-1

For more on adoration:

Why I Adore

Showing Up

Morning Chai, Explained

And this radio interview from last month.


For Your Continued Pursuit: Philippians 1:9 | Ephesians 3:19-20 | Psalm 42:1-2 | Proverbs 25:2 | Isaiah 55:1-2 | John 4:10,13 | John 6:32-35


First, second, fourth and fifth photos compliments of Mandie Joy. Third photo compliments of Cherish Andrea Photography. And, thanks to sweet MJ who took the chicken-scratch from my moleskine journal and made it into this awesome prayer guide!