Creating White Space In Our Lives


You should have seen my to-do lists from a few months ago. So long. So many ambitious tasks to do. What? Did I think it would be fun to write “wash the windows” down on my list every day for a year? Did I really need to write “get husband to clean the garage” again and again? Hyperbole, you know. But there’s a big huge morsel of truth here, folks. And I had to stop doing one thing to discover what was missing in my life.

I stopped writing these long, ridiculous to-do lists for myself. 

I had justified it by saying — it’s a brain dump. It will help me be more productive if I write it all down and then move forward to accomplish each task. But you know what? It was a way of life. It was an achievement-focused, mastery-based way of life with no room for error, for procrastination, for distraction, for failure, or for contentment. No room for margin.

And I realized I was left with little to no room for the things that really matter to me in life. 

My lifestyle was sucking the life out of me while keeping me too busy to enjoy my spouse, laugh with my kids, think my own thoughts, and pray to my God. The funny thing is, I don’t feel like I’m getting any less done these days. But what took place was a dynamic shift in priorities that opened my world wide to new love and new joy. 

The thing is — you have to put your feet down and stamp a little circle around in the dust, saying “this is my space, these are my boundaries”. You have defined your values, set your priorities. You know what matters to you and now you have to defend that territory. Vigorously. Let life carry you along and you’ll end up drowning in other people’s expectations and neediness and requests and demands. Technology doesn’t set the rules, you do.

“Many people commit to a 120 percent life and wonder why the burden feels so heavy. It is rare to see a life prescheduled to only 80 percent, leaving a margin for responding to the unexpected that God sends our way.” — Richard Swenson

Without intentional white space in our lives {extra time, extra finances, extra emotional energy} we are pushed to our very limits and often left empty, dry, and worth very little at the end of the day. Margin means saying no to things that aren’t important to you so you can focus on the things that are.

For me, this means spending a quiet 1/2 hour walking and talking with God each morning. It means taking long, refreshing showers in the morning and reading something inspirational in the evening. It means I’m not getting my self-esteem from being busy or accomplishing the whole list of things to do. 

It means if God sends someone to my front door mid-afternoon, I’ll be able to put things aside and have the energy to attempt to meet their needs. It means noticing and investing in teachable moments with my children.

We live in a culture that pushes us to the limit with perceived expectations, reasons to multi-task and really sketchy boundaries. Jesus didn’t live this way when He was here on earth. He always had time for the things that lined up with His reasons for being here.

“Oh Martha, Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details,  but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won’t take it away from her.” Luke 10:41, 42 The Voice

Really, only one thing matters. You know what it is. 

So take the steps to create that white space in your life today. Say no to the things that don’t really matter. And enjoy having space for all the things that do.

One Response to Creating White Space In Our Lives
  1. Deb
    July 22, 2013 | 10:52 am

    I love this, Laura. So important! We are in desperate need of margins in our lives. Time to refresh, to play, to laugh with our children, to hold hands with our spouse, and breathe in peace. Moments to savor life and praise God. Thanks for sharing this truth so beautifully.