Filling Our Cup



 “Simply be open and allow yourself to be held in the shelter of God. …Do not doubt your own spiritual experience.”    ~Joyce Rupp

The past few weeks we have had a visit from a foster parent telling his family’s story, and talked about the challenges occurring in our area from wildfires to public discourse. There have been heavy discussions and we can all get weighed down by the cares of the world. As a result, we decided to spend some time talking about filling our cup…or renewing our spirits.

Joyce Rupp says the main purpose of the cup is to have its contents given away. But what if the main purpose of the cup is to hold content? Truthfully, it’s a little of both isn’t it? The problem is always about learning to find balance in our lives. In our discussion group we began to talk yesterday about self-care in the difficult times of life. We remind each other that while we are exhorted to love God and love our neighbors, we are also exhorted to love ourselves as God loves us.

When people used to tell me to “love myself” it was a hard concept for me to grasp. Growing up, the spiritual path shown me was one always of the pouring out of self for others. Many people who work at churches or in helping professions have this problem of always giving and never taking care of self. This leads to burn-out in jobs, but can also lead to depression and other major health challenges.

The Rev. Leonard Bolick told us young pastors an analogy to help us find a way to pace ourselves that meant a lot to me.big-teacup-wordpress
He used the image of a cup and saucer.  He wanted us to consider our lives, our bodies, as a cup and saucer. We would only give from our saucer. Once we started to dip into the cup, we were going to be emptied. Once we started giving from the cup, there would soon be nothing left to give.

The image was really powerful to me because of how my Grandpa Whitley would drink his coffee. He was a farmer and he never drank coffee out of his cup. He always poured his coffee from his cup into the saucer and drank from the saucer. He did that to cool the coffee, but that image combined with Bishop Bolick’s has been one I’ve shared with many people about a way to look at how to know when to take a break. We all need to take a break sometimes, and it’s always better to take a break BEFORE you get sick, or burned out. Of course, this also begs the question, “How do I fill my cup?”


Learning to fill my cup took a long time for me to discern actually. Everyone automatically thinks “music refills your cup” and at first, I thought that too. The thing is, I can listen to music going to work and for most of my life, music was also one of my jobs. Filling your cup will take some time to discern. Discernment* is part of the spiritual process that we discuss a lot in our group too. Praying for discernment, we can sometimes pray to be like another person we admire. In order to fill our cup and serve God to the fullest however, we have to be true to the cup God created us to be. My mother-in-law has a lovely collection of teacups and saucers (as you can see in the above photo). While we may have colors or attributes we admire in others, we can only be the one person — “me.”

For an example, an introvert might want to be able to go to work at a lot of events. However, eventually an introvert is going to get burned out or sick because the way an introvert is energized is by quiet and alone time. An extrovert might admire the mystics who were prayerful quiet people, but being alone and away from people does not fill an extrovert with energy, but drains that person. No one can tell you or me how to fill our cup. We have to learn how to do it as an individual. That means listening to your life. Here are questions to consider as you discern what fills your cup:

  • What gives you joy?
  • What gives you energy?
  • What gives you peace?
  • What makes you feel loved? Do you find time to be with people you love?
  • What makes you feel accepted?
  • WHO makes you feel accepted? Do you spend time with that person?
  • Do you have time to cook a meal or are you always in the car?
  • How many hours of sleep do you need to feel rested?
  • Is the internet/social media fun to you or stressful?
  • Do you have fun? Do you have time to play? What is “play” to you?

These are just a few question examples of things that are different for each of us. We are individuals that are unique and valuable. We are also broken. It’s part of the human experience. One of the things we talked about yesterday is the fact that as people of Christ, we claim to be a healing place and that Christ uses us in our brokenness and heals the broken places. One of the ways our members find healing and get refilled is through attendance at worship and through communion. We have also come to love our discussion group and hate to miss it because we learn from each other and respect each other. You matter and the world needs the particular cup that you are. How can you learn to BE so that your cup can be refilled?

…if I wait to be
before I love myself
I will always be
and ungrateful

if I wait until
all the flaws, chips,
and cracks disappear
I will be the cup
that stands on the shelf
and is never used

   — Joyce Rupp

*Richard Rohr O.F.M describes discernment in this way: “It is the perception of the Lord’s presence in life, within all its circumstances. Knowing what the issues are, what His word/call to me is , within the realities of my life”. Richard takes this definition a step further and gives us three tools to help us discern: Perception, Illumination and Listening. These tools will help us on a basic level to begin to understand what discernment is. – See more at:

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