Feeling Overwhelmed? Build in Whitespace


The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. I attended a writers’ retreat in Door County, WI where I walked in the woods, typed on my computer, and laughed and talked with writer friends. Then I visited my mother for a few days, came home, did some laundry and repacked my suitcase. I left the next morning for Indianapolis where I attended a conference and a board meeting.

Those nine days were jam-packed. Filled with learning and working. Crammed with laughter and conversation. But there was very little whitespace.

What is whitespace?

In her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, author Bonnie Gray defines whitespace like this:

In art, whitespace is often referred to as “negative space.” It’s the space on the page absent of marks or images. We might consider the space as “blank,” but to the artist, whitespace holds beauty. It is the key element of design that gives balance to a composition, transforming a cluttered collection of objects into an aesthetic expression of what we do see.

She goes on to say:

My soul isn’t designed to be cluttered. It longs for space to taste beauty. To breathe. It’s always wanted what God intended for me.

My soul was designed for spiritual rest: spiritual whitespace.

We all need whitespace in our lives. Space for the soul to breathe. Time to connect with God and enjoy the gifts He’s given.

You might wonder, but how can I find this whitespace? My life is exactly as you described. It’s jam-packed with work, volunteer responsibilities, and family obligations. There simply is no whitespace!

I understand. And my words are not meant to drive you to book a guilt trip on the next train out.

Whitespace is a place of grace, not duty.

Start by remembering that Jesus longs to spend time with you. He desires to give you the peace and strength you need in your overwhelmed life. Come to Him to receive His grace, and not to check off one more thing on your overfilled to-do list.

Here are a few practical ideas to find whitespace, even in a busy season:

  • Get up fifteen minutes early to read Scripture and a devotion. Pray over your schedule for the day and ask Christ to be with you in every moment.
  • Or go to bed fifteen minutes early. Before going to sleep, review your day and thank God for His help and presence. Read a psalm and rest in God’s love and protection.
  • Set a timer to go off every hour. When you hear the buzz or the beep, pause for a few moments. Listen to a Christian song. Meditate on a Scripture that reminds you of Christ’s unfailing love.
  • Schedule some downtime. Because I knew my schedule was going to be overwhelmed for those nine days, I purposely created some whitespace before and after the hectic time. I set aside an afternoon on both ends to rest and read.

Jesus invited His disciples to experience whitespace when He said:

Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31)

He invites you to do the same.

Create whitespace for your soul to connect with Jesus. Even if it is only for a few minutes in a busy day, come away and rest awhile.

Next step: Choose one of the four ideas above to create a little whitespace in your life this week. Which one works best for you?


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