Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

Carmelite Musings

By Sister Mary Scholastica, O.C.D.

This reflection comes from someone who is not naturally a super optimistic person. Meaning, I tend to see the glass half empty – so when it becomes even emptier, I’m not disappointed. On the other hand, when the glass gets full, my expectations are exceeded. It’s a safe space.

I suppose we’re naturally wired to see and receive life a certain way. You can see it in little ones practically from birth. I’ve asked many a parent about their children and their children’s tendencies. It’s fascinating. Before they can rationalize and really know what they’re thinking or what to make of their environment, their little personalities shine through. Hands down this has been the response.

We are wired a certain way. We each have our unique gifts, personalities…everything that makes us, US. I know our perspective in life is eventually colored by our life experiences, yet there is a natural way in which we each tend to view and respond to the world. Mine happened to be a glass half empty outlook; in my mind, I was a realist.

You know what I’ve learned? It’s not so much a glass half empty or half full, optimistic or pessimistic, negative or positive outlook. It’s an entirely different perspective. It’s approaching all the circumstances of one’s day, of one’s life from a God-perspective. It’s how you choose to see things coming your way. If it’s from the hands of a loving God Who is all good and is someone Whom you know loves you, it changes things. Let’s be honest. It’s not easy to see ALL things coming from the hands of a loving God especially if you don’t understand, if there is suffering involved, if it’s a hardship, especially a hardship over a prolonged period of time. Yet, your response during these very times is what changes you deeply as a person. And in time, it starts to shift your entire outlook on life. The glass becomes full because you know you are loved. This knowing carries you. It marks you deeply as a person. It’s transformative.

Reflect back at your own life and notice the shifts that have taken place in you – in how you see life, how you interact with people, respond to situations. We change and grow with what we experience, receive and learn. It’s God teaching and forming us through the moments that He provides throughout the day. He wants the goodness and beauty that is so intrinsic to who we are to shine through. He’s removing little by little all the filters, all the layers that we’ve added on to our outlook on life and ultimately on ourselves.

It’s not about seeing the glass as empty or full but seeing the glass as a vessel to receive whatever the Lord sends. This means putting yourself entirely into His hands and letting Him fashion you as He wishes. The people I have met in life who have allowed themselves to respond in this way are BEAUTIFUL. The beauty within is so palpable that it can no longer be contained. It radiates outwards and draws others. It’s fullness in ways we can’t even fathom. What a grace and gift.