photo by Dinner Series

I walk through the door bone weary, head throbbing, searching for the nearest flat surface so I can sink into silence. I feel depleted, drained, tired in a way that makes my heart echo with emptiness.

Another day I walk through the door worn out but not worn down, ready for a nap but also ready to get up and go for it again, smiling even through the physical fatigue that tugs at every part of my body. My energy tank is empty but my heart is full.

One task depleted me–like a sugar crash after too much junk food.

The other filled me up–like a satisfying meal that makes you lean back in your chair and sigh with new strength.

Here’s the catch: both looked like great opportunities on the outside.

But one was not for me.

And the next time it came around, I turned down another helping. That’s hard for us as women {at least it is for me}. Saying “no” to what looks enticing and sweet even though we know it will ultimately not nourish us can be difficult to do. And yet discovering what truly feeds our hearts is essential.

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His work” {John 4:34}.

What God truly has for us to do on this earth will fill us up deep inside. Oh, yes, we will get tired sometimes along the way. We will have struggles and face obstacles. But what He has for us is not meant to leave us continually empty.

Be careful if you’re working hard “for God” and your heart feels hungry all the time.

Stop and ask Him, “Is this really, truly what You have for me? Have I taken in or taken on something You never intended?”

How do we even know what’s God’s will is?

Part of the process is that we are to “test and approve it” {Romans 12:2}. You might even say “taste and approve it” because just like your body knows what is good, your heart does too. But that only comes through experience.

So don’t be afraid to try what’s in front of you. Have a bite. Then see what happens.

Is it nourishing?

Soul filling?

Life giving?

Then have some more, my friend. But if it’s not, it’s okay to push the plate away or pass it on to someone else {because what feeds each of us is different}. You’ll know when you’ve found what you need. You’ll “taste and see that the Lord is good.” {Psalm 34:8}.

And what He gives is good for you.

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.” {Isaiah 55:2-3}.

God offers something better than a busy, full life.

He offers life to the full.


–Holley Gerth, author of You’re Made for a God-sized Dream


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  • Giggles

    Oh how I wish I had asked before.He is faithful enough for me to ask right now and He is faithful enough to answer!Thank you so much for writing this and writing it so well!

  • Bev Duncan@ Walking Well With God

    Too many times I have “tasted” from a plate that was not mine. You’re right, it leaves you feeling drained and exhausted. I’m learning, with time, to “taste test” and see if what is in front of me is truly God’s will for my life. “No” is not a four letter word :)

  • dianne

    Oh how many times i’ve eaten off of someone else’s plate and thought i wanted what they had! i am learning and i am asking for my own plate from God, with my own special food on it. He is faithful!

  • donna

    Unfortunately, it all needs doing and I think some tasks are just not “feeding” for anyone.

  • nancy

    How very true! I have heard “strengths” defined as those things that give me inner strength, even if my body becomes weary in the doing–not simply things that I’m good at… and “weaknesses” as those things that leave me drained and exhausted. I have learned that I am actually good at some things that leave me drained–they are not tasks that God has assigned to me! I’m still working on the saying no part, but God’s grace and mercy carry me through each day. He is truly good!

  • Elaine

    This is excellent advice, Holley. I’ve eaten a lot of things that did not nourish me at all.
    I’ve come to realize that in doing so — after all, if I don’t – who will? — I’ve actually eaten that which was meant to nourish another. And that one who was a bit shy or tired from doing the wrong thing herself continues to feel depleted.

    I’m gong to work at remembering to ask myself ” Is it nourishing? Soul filling? Life giving? And then perhaps I will be able to encourage others with the same questions and they might find that something new that is just be what they were always looking for.

  • Diane W. Bailey

    “Be careful if you are “working for God” and your heart is hungry all of the time.” That is a great way to measure what is going on in your ministry. And a great way of measuring what is going on in your heart. Wonderful words of wisdom, Holley! ( as usual!) Love ya, girl!

  • karyn

    I just love God’s WORD. It’s like I never really get enough of it. I hunger for more and more and more and more and more and can sit for hours and hours until I’m worn to the T but satisfied. What’s the verse.
    Those who hunger for righteousness sakes …….

    6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
    The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Mt 5:6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

    This is me.

  • Tamara

    I love how you said we have to “taste and approve it”. I have been praying and searching for my calling in life. Where is it that God needs me and where is it he can use me. I guess I need to “taste test” and let the fulfilling or emptying of my heart show me the way. Thank you Holley for these words of wisdom! They really spoke to me today right where I am. God Bless!

  • Konnie

    Thanks Holley!
    This is EXACTLY how it has been working for me. I had a MAJOR life changing letter in the mail a month ago. Answers appeared, but my heart SCREAMED “no” at most of them. I am on my way to the one answer that make my heart sigh with completeness!

    Thank You…I needed this today!


  • Missy June

    Timely, wise words – thank you so much!

  • Lisa Blake

    hmmm this one is thought provoking yet leaves me feeling frustrated. Juggling all the mechanics of LIFE yet yearning for soul food. So far away from what God intended for me that I don’t even know what it is anymore. God has me doing life one day at a time and I pray to feel joy rather than grief of a long tough season. Change towards soul replenishment and joyful life is so desired and yearned for, but not where God has me right now… it’s hard….

    • Sue Scadden

      Lisa, You are not alone. I am here in my own desert walk. We all face those times when it is so hard to hear the voice of God or see His hand guiding us…. BUT He is faithful. I am no expert, but If I may just offer encouragement. Just keep moving. God will guide your feet if you are willing to move them. The Word is your lamp, stay within its light and don’t try to run. Each step is part of the process. He holds you in the Palm of His hand. He know each of your days. And Loves you with an everlasting Love.

  • Stacey

    I love that you speak my language.

    thank you friend for truth today I needed to read.


  • Caroline

    What a visual treat on how to follow our callings, relationships and priorities. I love chocolate, but not all chocolate is tasty to my palette ~ yet what isn’t to me can be wonderful experience to another. Thank you for a lovely, gentle reminder.

  • Mich Nicolas

    What a beautiful and insightful piece! Thanks, Holley! God bless you!

  • Melissa

    What about when my husband can taste and see and know and is full and satisfied, but I feel the opposite…tired, worn, frustrated, empty? I love my husband and I want to serve the Lord, but we are feeling so different about where we are right now.

  • Petra

    Wonderful and insightful as always, Holley. You are a blessing x

  • Kaitlin

    Needed to hear this today!!! What wonderful TRUTH!
    Blessings to you today!

  • Missy

    This is a lesson I continually seem to have to relearn. Different seasons bring much different offerings and I find that if I don’t continually test and approve, (I love that “taste” and approve!), then I’m still eating stale spiritual food. This spoke right into my heart, Holley!

  • Debbie

    Thanking Him for His life to the full!

  • Jeanne Bowser

    Wow! Thank you Holley. I am constantly juggling as to what feeds the soul, is life giving, and nourishing, with regarding to God, but rarely think about what feeds my heart. I guess others are on my mind more than me, but the choices I need to make on a daily basis, sometimes have to wait till I can go with the peace inside. This was a good reminder to me, as I’ve got prayer/worship camp I’m planning for my church kids. a monthly outreach to my neighborhood and staying on top of that, along with my responsibilities of being on staff at my church. I love my work; the call, but staying focused is where God is zoning in on me lately. It seems I have very little time to write the book about Kid’s Club…He’s on me to write.

  • Joni G.

    Thank you, Holley, I needed that today.

  • Claire De Boer

    Love these words: “Be careful if you’re working hard “for God” and your heart feels hungry all the time.” You have clarified for me how I will know whether my work is God’s work. Thank you Holley!

  • Dolly@Soulstops

    Hi Holley,
    This is so true, and as a recovering people-pleaser, I have had to learn to say “no”…it is in the short term, but it is easier in the long run. Blessings to you :) and Thanks!

  • Lindsay

    I struggle with this also. There are many places in the church that need doing that no one feels “called” or nourished by them. The same people seem to do everything. I know it’s important to follow what keeps you feeling spiritually fulfilled but I think it’s very important to try to do the things that help others in their faith life so that they feel fulfilled also even if we feel exhausted or drained afterwards.

  • Wanda

    What a tremendous encouragement today! I’ve been guilty of sneaking a taste off another’s plate. Never does it satisfy like eating from my own.

  • Jenni

    I read this today as it pertains to my work situation and find that it is just as meaningful as if I applied it to ministry. The conclusions suggested here gave me a measure of peace in that arena as well….and another layer of permission to seek a new opportunity.

  • Hazel

    Thank you Holley

  • KirstenJoy

    Your words are so true. I’ve been in that place where all the activity that I was involved in left me empty and unsatisfied. It’s so true that when you are in the center of your purpose, even when it’s hard, it still satisfies. Thanks for the beautiful encouragement!

  • Amy Hunt

    Yes. And Amen. This knowing, and living it, is worship.

  • Lady M

    Wonderful article! I’m excited about reading your book!

  • Crystal

    Beautiful, friend. Thank you for this good word & the encouragement :)

  • Donna

    Thanks Holley,
    This has been on my heart lately. Just what does God have just for me to do in this life to please Him. I want to know and I’m starting to ask him before I jump in and volunteer for things. God Bless!!

    • Sue

      But DOnna, how do you know what God is saying to you. I too ask God before saying yes to projects, but I never get an answer written in the sky, and it is sometimes incredibly hard to know whether God wants us to do something or not. God bless.

  • Holley Gerth

    Thanks for sharing your hearts here today, friends! Let’s keep filling up on God’s best for us. :) XO

  • Maria Jones-Davidson

    Holley, thank you for your words of inspirations. Over here the wonderful autumn weather says it all, that God is always good. The sun is shining so beautifully right now, alongside the movements of the autumn leaves that fall to the ground, creating a whole pile of a big mess can be its interpretation. However, on the other hand, the same picture can be used to fertilize the garden when you think of turning the messy leaves to good use like making a compost. For me, it’s a lot easier to do it this way… to see the goodness of God and appreciate my surrounding despite the challenges the day brings. God is still on the throne. I know, I get tired as well, but rest is also available. Rest is so important and it is to me. The psalmist says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1 , NKJV ~ Blessing!

  • Sue

    I think I’m guilty of taking on too much. when I gave up full time work to concentrate on volunteering for our church mission, my husband said I was to make my voluntary work my “work”, and so I have always felt guilty for taking time out in the day for God. I push myself continually, and when I’m not busy I find other jobs to do that will make me so. And then I get myself into such a state because I am so busy I feel like I’m going mad. I have recently taken on two extra tasks, nothing to do with church, and although I felt at the time it was the right thing to do, I am now not sure that one of them is. However, I feel guilty because nobody else was willing to take it on, and I can’t really turn round and say I won’t do it any more after just a few months. I know that the most important time of the day is my quiet time with the Lord, but it is always the first thing that goes in a busy day. Why is that! There are some days when I just don’t open my Bible at all. I am such a mess.

    • Carolyn


      I do the same thing. I don’t know why I need to keep running all the time. It is hard to stop. You are loveable. You are worthy of being loved without having to do anything. Believe in yourself and in God. You will find your way.


  • Beth Williams

    I am bad at going ahead of God–jumping right in thinking it is the right thing–and in the end coming to regret it.

    This happened around 2004 when I thought I wanted to do something medical. Sure, after some time, I landed a good job & it was ok for about 4 years, but now it is not fulfilling my heart. A lot of days I’ve felt drained, unused & weary-not happy & content. Through this process I’m learning to lean on God & pray for His guidance at this stage of my life.

    Great post Holley!

  • Jenn Williamson

    Oh Holley! Such a great piece, and full of truth; but, I am struggling with the other side of this coin. God has me in that place where I am serving out of my weakness, and YES, I am weary! At the same time, I am SURE that it is God who has put me here, washing the feet of others! Ironically, I blogged about it yesterday. Would love to know your thoughts!

  • Dawn

    funny how certain scriptures keep popping up when God needs us to stop and LOOK. Or hear. Romans 12:2 in the Message bible says, if you go against the grain, you get splinters, but if you embrace the way God does things, there are wonderful payoffs….peace. Anything I need to let go of usually has claw marks in it. I can feel the heart aches of the people who wrote in today because I too am in a very dark time when I have to trust that I will be happy again and that I am exactly where I need to be.
    I love these emails I get Holley.

  • Adeline

    This is so needed. So many times we take on things that we are not meant to, out of guilt or because we think we need to help or do it all and then we suffer the consequences or get burned out. Thank you for saying it’s alright to say no. That we all have a purpose and it’s different from the person next to us. :-)

  • Gindi

    Oh such wise words sweet Holley – it is very true. No one believes I’m an introvert but “they” say the difference is how you feel after a big event – drained or energized. I love this perspective of it having the same effect if you’re not going where God is truly calling you.

  • Laura Roome

    Hi Holley,

    I am finally understanding this after walking with our Lord for 34 years!! I recently quit something which did not involve my giftings and the relief was immense!! Now, I am going to test out everything before I commit myself. Thanks so much for this wonderful, timely, wisdom!! Blessings, Laura

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