He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.Psalm 18:19 NIV
Does your heart feel a little like your home after the holidays? The Christmas tree and decorations are cleaned out and put away, leaving nothing but a few stray pine needles mingled with dust. On that January day in our home, I’m usually a bit depressed about how bleak my living room feels. For six weeks, the place has encapsulated glitter and gifts, cocoa and cookies, firelight and stockings. Now, it looks empty.
Yet, the sparseness comes at the moment I need it, offering a space to breathe and quietly reflect on the year behind and the year ahead. I’m not too hasty in replacing my decor—I usually live with the barrenness of accessories for a few weeks. Why? If I automatically fill my space with the same furnishings, I waste the opportunity to evaluate my current dwelling. Living with white space brings clarity.
And so it is in our hearts.
You might think of this concept as margin. I believe much of our weariness results from our efforts in excess. We try to do too much, go to more places, and be many things to many people. Then we begin contemplating life-giving versus life-draining activities. What do we confidently say yes to, and what requires a definite no? We hear jabber of balance, self-care, and discovering the nebulous complex equation of areas to decrease and areas to increase to yield the perfect product of a healthy life.
Our culture seems to be on a scavenger hunt to find the missing items to relieve our weariness. Ironically, the quest to find those answers contributes to more busyness and exhaustion! While introspection and regular analysis of activities are necessary for soul health, the remedy for mental fatigue isn’t in a collection of cultural data and ideas—it’s decluttering the soul. Cue the inward groans. It’s more enjoyable to stop by Home Goods for a cute new tchotchke than it is to clean out the laundry room. Ask me how I know.
We need to welcome white space in the sacred interior of the soul.
Like my home in January, let’s create some breathing room in our hearts before accessorizing with more plans, goals, and information. As you peer into your heart, consider these culprits of clutter: stress triggers, overwhelming situations, repeated frustrations. Through self-reflection, areas needing attention will emerge.
The clarity of white space brings awareness of my spiritual needs.
Your soul clutter looks different from mine, and we all have varying capacity levels to tolerate overwhelm. Here are a few ideas that I find helpful when the day wreaks havoc on the white space I crave. Perhaps this list will help you gain a bit more margin in your life, too.
- Go on a walk.
- Set a timer (and stick to it!) for daily social media interaction.
- Keep an uplifting book with you in the car and at appointments so you can use wait time for soul-care time.
- Order groceries online.
- Review your children’s responsibilities and consider tasks they could complete independently.
- Wait before saying yes to commitments, considering what you will be giving up if you commit.
- Listen to worship music.
- When you feel rushed, pressured, or frantic—stop and breathe. Look deeper into your frazzled emotions until you find the root. Is this a self-induced expectation? Procrastination? Fear? Pride?
- Resist the lure of pseudo-urgency. Very few situations are emergencies (unless it’s a school party sign-up form, in which case you need to put your name by “paper plates” pronto—because any other contribution shrinks your margin. Trust me on this one).
Know someone who needs a bit of renewal?
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If you’ve been around this space for awhile, you know I love the word renew. Along with my Renew devotional, I created a free guidebook for you to refresh your home and heart. I’d love to send it to you, click here to sign up.