Take a breath.
White space. Let it mull around in your head for another second.
It’s a fairly easy concept to understand; yet for many of us, we will miss it entirely. For a mom and a wife, what does white space even look like? Is it the nighttime hour when you are weightless in your bed, body caved into the mattress, only to be interrupted by your husband…who has good intentions. Our days as moms don’t begin at eight and end at five. It’s a twenty- four hour, seven days a week gig. What happens when you add a career or homeschooling during Covid-19? You can forget those two words – white space.
It’s fair to say, many of us already had stressful lives before Covid-19 hit our country with a worldwide pandemic. Most of 2020 has been composed of homeschooling our kids, all while juggling careers, groceries, laundry and such. You can forget binge-watching Friends while your kids are at school. By God’s loving and at times comical personality, he is sanctifying me daily in my pursuit of homeschooling. I have huge respect and admiration for teachers. They will have a special place in heaven with gold paved driveways and unlimited coffee.
Blank has purpose.
Wikipedia describes white space as the portion on a page left unmarked. Space should not be considered merely “blank” space – it is an important element of design. It’s not blank space because it has a purpose.
We were born into a busy culture. Our planet is seeking deliverance, but will we be able to stop? We are bursting at the seams and cramped in our storage units. We don’t even have enough room for our own stuff – we have to invest in other forms of storage. Our minds work the same way. We start preschool and begin our long thirteen-year trek into school, sports, and activities. All while trying to develop who we are and what we want to be. Many of us continue into more years of education and diplomas, striving to find our place in this world. We hold our personal title against the world’s definition of worthy. We fill our schedules with more activities, second jobs, vacations, serving opportunities, and constantly fill our white space on our calendars.
The cycle continues into motherhood because well, being a mom is not enough anymore. If our calendars are empty, we feel discontent, unaccomplished, or lazy. I’ve been this person. I’d find space in my planner to write more tasks to complete. White space in today’s culture is not attractive, it’s lazy.
The release lies in the recognition that it is a journey, not a destination. A mindset.
We are all fighting the same battle of busyness. Christ has continually pursued me into white space. I’ve learned that the most precious moments are found when the outpouring of our spirit is in line with Christs. That requires time. Quiet. Space. But oh the wonderful opportunity to discern his voice and enjoy the journey he has placed us on. We must find time to experience his presence, the result – peace, patience, love…the fruit of the Spirit lives here.
White space is where we can accept who we are, rejoice in our blessings, and cry in our frustrations. You are beloved, chosen by an awesome God, anointed, holy, blameless…the list goes on. We were made in Christ’s image! If that’s not enough to get your blood pumping, then I am afraid nothing will. Even the creator himself had rest and gave rest.
- Genesis 2:2-3 “By the seventh day God had finished all his work, so on the seventh day he rested.”
- Mark 6:31 “Come and rest.”
The apostles were sent on a specific ministry assignment in Mark 6. They would struggle with discouragement, rejection, suffering. Yet, Christ would empower them to preach and lead. Christ saw their exhaustion and before sending them out again he called them to rest.
Are we being responsive to what God is doing?
As a nation, let us not fall into another pandemic where we are left overwhelmed and crippled by fear of change. A good friend and ministry leader explained it best. “Our routines are being disrupted so we can ask God what parts of our routine do we place over life in the spirit. Are we being responsive to what God is doing in our lives?” 2020 has become a year of isolation and yet I feel more connected with my family than ever. Our conversations are intentional, connections deeper and love stronger.
I recently listened to Beth Moore on a podcast discussing her new book “Chasing Vines”. The history she studied of vines and producing grapes enthralled me. The vine does not grow well in suitable conditions; rather the growth of the vine comes from being under pressure and in stressful conditions. The vines will not produce grapes unless it thinks it is dying. It then desires to reproduce – hence the bloom of a grape. Wow. Aren’t we like that as Christians? Humans in general? We won’t produce much fruit if we are not being pushed and prodded, pruned and refined. It’s when we hit our knees and find in his presence we can’t bear strength to produce on our own.
Encouragement for Restoring the White
Toss out Comparison – My dear friend and wise mother of two often reminds me of this quote, “comparison is the thief of joy”. And friend, it sure is! If our expectations of white space are found on Pinterest, Instagram, or any other media platform, then we will be poorly disappointed when our time does not turn out like the masses. Your soul is unique to you and this is how you restore it.
Start Simple – Turn off the radio on the way to work. Put down your phone in the carline. Climb in bed ten minutes earlier. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture of blocking out an entire day (though that would be lovely!). Just starting with a few moments of uninterrupted silence can restore our souls.
Do You – Do you feel energized and alive by reading? Journaling? Painting your nails…in quiet…without kids. God can meet us wherever we need to be. The idea is to be intentional about your white space. If you are reading, find an uninterrupted space and cozy up to let God speak his abundant love to you. Journaling is a goal of mine. I find it works best when I have all my journaling supplies packed and ready to travel wherever they need to go. (I.e. front porch, bedroom…etc) A small basket with coloring pencils, pens, and a journal will do just fine. Lastly, being a mom is tough work. On countless occasions, I have locked myself in my bathroom just to paint my nails in quiet! God can meet you there. He’s ever-present and always waiting.
Say no – Take a wide look at your upcoming month and determine to say “no” to something. It is possible. Go ahead and write “Restoring the White”. Mental preparation is just as important as the act itself.
Reinforcements for Kids – This is important and probably the most overlooked part of setting a routine of white space. Women thrive in community, whether you are an introvert or extrovert. God created women to be helpers and praise Jesus because of that, we don’t have to walk this life alone. Seek out a mentor, small group, or mom’s morning out kind of program that will allow you to experience white space. Trust God in trusting your kids with your community.
For my married mommy friends
Your spouse is NOT your babysitter – If you are married, hang with me for a minute. Restoring the white requires intentionality and that can be difficult with kids. It’s important to realize that your husband is not your babysitter. Believe it or not, he contributed to those little lives of joy running ramped around your house. He is your equal partner, not a babysitter. He does not require monetary payment (now if you’ve worked out another form of payment that’s between you two!) He is equally qualified as a father, to spend time with his kids without you. You deserve a routine of white space. Restoring the white will require you to lean on him.
Restoring the white is about restoring your soul. It allows you to come into the place God ordained and delivered. Your life was purchased at a price; it is valuable, worthy, and redeemable. White space has a purpose; it’s rejuvenating, full-filling, and light. It wasn’t meant to be burdensome.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Restoring the white IS stepping into purpose.