The responsibilities keep piling on. The calendar gets filled up with more events. We’re moving from one thing to another with barely a moment to breathe. I run the family around from home to school, on errands, on playdates, to Target and back. Everything is always rushed. My temper is short, and my patience is never in stock. Everyone peeves me. I’m not myself anymore. I become only the things I do, the roles I play, and it’s suffocating me.
Writing is the first thing to go when I get busy. It’s hard to justify creative work when there’s laundry to be done, when the kids need attention, when family or friends are in crisis.
“It’s just a hobby,” I tell myself. “It’s not important,” or “It’s not as important as . . . ” The lies start to pour in and make more sense than all the true things I’ve felt in my gut about my gift with words.
You’re not a writer. Don’t kid yourself. You’re wasting time. There are more important things you’re already committed to right now.
They fill my mind and take charge, fooling me into thinking they have my best in mind.
Don’t worry. You have other skills you’re good at. You’re a good mentor. You’re great at hospitality — just stick with those.
I try to protest, but they shush me. Without realizing it, I’ve been backed into a corner. I sit there obediently as if I belong there, not even questioning whether the lies are true or not.
So I continue on in busyness. I keep my schedule packed. Every free slot on the calendar is taken up. Every free moment of my day is filled with social media so I don’t miss out on anything. I pour into becoming a better wife, mom, sister, friend. I get fooled into thinking I’m being productive, then reward myself by catching up on my TV shows and binge watching new ones. I don’t let my mind have any extra space so I won’t remember, so I won’t hear the gentle, inviting voice of God calling me back to Himself, to myself, to writing.
My life becomes overloaded, and so does my soul. I lose peace. I start to people please again and strive for the unrealistic goal of perfection in all the roles I play. I feel as though I’m stuck in a glass box. The air is stale. I can’t breathe. I need to get out. I need to break free. My soul isn’t well, and it needs the space to be whole again.
It needs whitespace. Whitespace — void of noise, people, striving, shoulds and shouldn’ts. Whitespace — where I can breathe, where I can come back to my true identity, where I can just be.
I used to look forward to vacations or conferences or any time I got by myself as my only “Get Out of the Glass Box Free” card. They gave me a break from the routine I felt stuck in, but they weren’t guarantees I’d get the space I needed to breathe deeply. They were short-term solutions to a busyness problem I had long-term issues with, and over time I learned that whitespace isn’t found in vacation breaks; it can be found anywhere.
When I feel confined by the monotony of our suburban life, I long for wide, open space. I ache for the endless fields of luscious green or the infinite expanse of the sky. My eyes yearn for the pastels and jeweled colors of creation. My ears yearn to hear the rustle of leaves dancing in the breeze. Nature woos me into quiet worship, reminding me of who I am and whose I am.
And though I prefer the vastness of an open field, whitespace can be found in a walk around the neighborhood, in the pages of our journals, in a deliberate breath. We can find it in a quiet room, in prayer, in writing, in a paintbrush, in closing our eyes and seeing it in our imaginations.
When things are busy and our minds are anxious, we need space to breathe. It’s not a luxury but a necessity. It’s what reconnects us to our God, our Creator, and Father, and as we let Him sing over us, our souls can come alive again. It’s in that place of peaceful rest we find room to to be and to create again.
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Psalm 18:19 (NIV)