Just as whitespace on a page or screen creates beauty by giving your eyes a place to rest, spiritual whitespace – places to enjoy soul rest with God – can give you a beautiful life of peace, joy, and confidence.You can heal from the stress and pain that clutters your life by intentionally creating more spiritual whitespace. God will meet you in that whitespace and awaken your soul with rest, making something beautiful out of you.Here’s how you can create spiritual whitespace in your life:
Open your heart to experience rest with Jesus. Rest is not something you need to engineer; it’s something you can simply receive as a gift by inviting Jesus into your current circumstances. Make time regularly to communicate with Jesus in prayer, trusting that he will accept you just as you are. Open your heart to Jesus and welcome the peace that he wants to give you.
Investigate why you feel stressed and hurt. Don’t hide from parts of your past that trouble you. Instead, ask the Holy Spirit to help you explore your past and come to understand how past experiences have contributed to the stress and wounds that affect your life right now. Stop wasting your energy on efforts to try to suppress your pain, distract yourself from it, or cope with it in unhealthy ways (such as by working hard to try to feel better about yourself, or trying to escape from reality through worldly pleasures that can’t really fulfill you). Admit the brokenness you feel to Jesus, and accept his invitation to speak to Him in your full voice about your pain to begin the healing process.
Listen to what your feelings are telling you. While it’s true that you shouldn’t rely on your feelings to guide your decisions (because they’re constantly changing and sometimes aren’t accurate), the emotions you feel do have valid messages to give you about the state of your soul. So rather than ignoring your feelings, pay close attention to them. Pray about your emotions, asking Jesus to show you where they should lead you in your journey with him.
Overcome rejection and risk being loved and known. Remember the rejection you’ve experienced in the past – such as having a friend betray you, losing a job, or hearing critical words from your parents or a romantic partner – and consider how that rejection has affected your confidence. Whenever you feel like you’re not special, ask the Holy Spirit to help you see yourself from God’s perspective: as someone whom he completely understands, loves deeply, and treasures as part of His family. Risk being yourself with confidence – both in prayer with God, and in conversations with some other believers you trust – and derive comfort and encouragement from those relationships.
Recover pieces of yourself that have been abandoned. Put together the broken pieces of your life by relying on the Holy Spirit to help you discover more about yourself. Then you’ll be able to see a more complete picture of who you are as a person. Connect to pieces of your past through memory activities such as: visiting neighborhoods you lived in growing up, writing down some of your happiest and saddest childhood memories, and listening to some music you enjoyed growing up. As you recall your childhood prayerfully, the Spirit will give you new insights into your true identity as one of God’s beloved children.
Make time for more joy in your life. Prioritize time for yourself regularly to enjoy pursue that will awaken your soul. Brainstorm ways to find joy from specific people, places, activities, foods, music, etc.
Take good care of your body, mind, and spirit. Get rid of stress that you were never meant to handle by taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When you’re experiencing the wellbeing that God intends for you, you’re in the best position to sense his presence and notice his work in your life. So take care of yourself in ways like: getting enough sleep and exercise, eating healthy, enjoying fun times with friends, identifying the sources of stress in your life and asking God to help you deal with each one, and sharing faith stories with other people whom you trust while supporting each other through both good and bad times.
Let go of clutter to create a soulful home. Create a peaceful space in your home for your soul to breathe by getting rid of clutter in every room. Let go of anything that you haven’t used during the past year, as well as anything that you don’t really need or truly desire. Donate your excess stuff to a place that helps others (such as The Salvation Army or Goodwill), and enjoy the freedom of knowing that your fulfillment ultimately comes from God, rather than material possessions.
Spend regular time in quiet and solitude. When you’re quiet and by yourself, the deepest thoughts and questions in your mind can surface so you can wrestle with them in prayer with God. So make time regularly to reflect and pray in quiet and solitude. Listen carefully to what messages the Holy Spirit communicates to you during that time.
Restore your God-given dreams through creative whitespace. Start pursuing the dreams that God has placed within your heart, but that you’ve neglected to focus on in the past because you’re afraid they may not actually come true. Write, sing, draw, cook, build, program, garden, or do any other creative activity that you sense God leading you to do to create more beauty in the world.
Notice God’s love notes to you in your daily life. Enjoy God’s constant presence with you by noticing the many ways he communicates with you every day: not just in prayer and during Bible reading, but also in nature, songs you hear, pictures you see, etc. Use all of your senses to seek God and notice his messages to you. When you do, your soul will be refreshed and your life will constantly grow more beautiful.
Adapted from Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, copyright 2014 by Bonnie Gray. Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Ada, Mich., bakerpublishinggroup.com.
Bonnie Gray is the founder of Faith Barista, a contributor to Crosswalk.com, and a featured writer for DaySpring’s popular (in)courage blog. Her writing is nationally syndicated and has been spotlighted in Christianity Today and McClatchy-Tribune News Services. She has served as a missionary, a ministry entrepreneur, and worked in high tech as an engineering and marketing program manager. A passionate speaker who inspires audiences to find God in everyday life, Bonnie lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.