October 26, 2015

Thirsty by Marnie Pohlmann

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse. - Henry Van Dyke

The most difficult part of my writing life, I think, is yesterday.  

I don’t mean literally the day before today, but yesterday as in the way I look at what I previously set down on paper. It’s difficult because I want to change yesterday – I rewrite and I second-guess. Invariably, when someone reads what I wrote, I go back to find a spelling mistake, or see a sentence that could have been reworded. My self-editor soon has me struggling with regret over having shared in the first place, and unwilling to submit anything more.

I am grateful for the opportunity to write, and for others who are interested in what I am writing, but I have trouble expressing that thankfulness when my focus is on what others think, or on my shortcomings.

My husband is a glass-half-full kind of guy, and he has pointed out that I am a glass-half-empty kind of gal. Personality contributes to some of this worldview, he being always up for an adventure and me being more cautious about the unknown. However, many other variables can also determine these perspectives.

Have you ever put the dinner leftovers away and found you chose the wrong size container for the food? Some people have a gift for spatial acuity (like my husband), while I struggle with a fridge full of containers either overflowing or too big for the contents. Could this be the reason I also see my glass as half-empty? I just do not have a good frame of reference for determining how things fit!

Or perhaps thankfulness has more to do with expression of feeling. For example, when a pet dies, some people are devastated and need to build memorials. Others get on with the burial without shedding a tear. We may think the emotional response means one loved their pet more than the stoic response, but that may not be the case. Grief can look vastly different for different people. Their beliefs, previous experiences, coping skills and methods, and personalities are all factors shaping what their sorrow looks like. Could it be the same for thankfulness?

Each of us is unique, so how we respond to the same circumstance can look completely different. Half full or half empty - these may not be good or bad, just different ways of looking at a situation. Seeing the good in yesterday’s writing may cause me to celebrate, and seeing the reality of a situation may create angst, but these are simply perspective. I become a better writer by not ignoring that what I wrote yesterday could use improvement, and seeing the opportunities can motivate me to continue.

How full is your glass?
God gives each of us different kinds of glasses, so it can be difficult to tell the level in a glass when the containers are different sizes or shapes. Maybe a glass looks full because the glass itself is smaller, so appears fuller even though it carries the same amount as a larger glass.

I am learning, though, and the fact remains, that whether I see my glass as half-full or half-empty, the glass still has room for more! 

No matter how I describe it, both glasses can hold an additional amount.  I believe God would prefer each of us, no matter the shape of our glass, to seek to have our glass over-flowing. He speaks in Scripture of abundant life.

We cannot fill the glass on our own. Choosing an attitude of thanksgiving helps us be content with the glass we have, but the glass is no fuller. We must go to the source to be filled. I cannot change my yesterday, but I can seek improvement for my tomorrow. That is important in my writing, and in my life. By going to the tap, or as Jesus said, to the well of Living Water, my glass can be filled.

Yes, when I look at my yesterday, I often see the glass half empty. When I look at tomorrow, I fear my glass may once again become half-empty. When I look at today, I see my glass with all its imperfections, yet I am grateful to have the glass. And when I focus on the maker of my glass, He pours into me abundantly. 

I know the well of Living Water who can fill me. Filled to overflowing, no matter the shape of my glass, no matter the circumstances of life, no matter what my self-editor has to say. Then even this glass-half-empty gal cannot help but express thanksgiving to God.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. (John 7:38 NIV)


  1. 'The glass still has room for more'... Yes! That says it all and is definitely is something worth remembering!

  2. I agree! We were made to overflow with abundant life!

  3. I agree! We were made to overflow with abundant life!

  4. So often we have been so concentrated on whether the glass was half-full or half-empty that we missed the point entirely....that there is room for more as you pointed out. I really enjoyed this Marnie.

  5. What a wonderful extended metaphor with the glass. Thanks for reminding me that whatever my perspective, my glass still has room for more--and that Jesus wants to fill it with His abundant life.

  6. I appreciate what you are saying, Marnie. When we put our writing "out there', we can be critical of our writing after the fact, but a lot of those edits are minor. Did we, however, get our story out there? Did we speak to our readers with that message? Did we connect? If we write with good intentions, I think, for the most part, we did get our message out, and I think we did connect with at least one reader!

    I have always loved Mahatma Gandhi's words, and I ran into them again today: "Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes." Our writing may not always be perfect, but if we try to write the best we can and we are willing to practice, take constructive criticism when offered, and study our craft, we are moving in the right direction. In line with your extended metaphor on the glass, I believe the cliche about not crying over spilled milk may be apt.

  7. Gosh, Marnie, you've shined a light on my latest bad habit of seeing half-empty glasses just as you described. Thank you for a timely post :)


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.