sometimes He gives us a cross

white space 9

About a week ago, my friend Megan sent me a text that said, “How do we achieve white space without backing out of all of our commitments and alienating ourselves?”

I’ve watched Megan gracefully step down from a commitment in favor of being able to devote more time to her small children. And I know that took so much courage and self-awareness to recognize what was giving life to her and to her family. And she made the decision.

I think the answer to her question is to just ask God. Listen to His call for your life in this season.

God never promised us that things would be easy. We may be called to do things that are uncomfortable and messy. When Jesus tells us to take up the cross and deny ourselves, that’s not supposed to sound like a cake walk. Our calling, following Him, and denying ourselves isn’t about us.

But hearing that calling, recognizing His voice and where He wants us to be takes a full relationship with Him. So ask Him.

I’m making space in my life so that I can hear very clearly where He wants me and where He doesn’t. What is distracting me and making me so busy that I am rushing through quiet times? Rushing through my prayer life.

What do You want me to do, Lord? Where do You want me to serve?

The purpose of white space is not to create this cushy little space where we are in control of all of our commitments and obligations. Where everything is beautiful and clean and without mess. The Lord wants to mess us up.

Our pastor said yesterday, “Sometimes His gifts are pretty and sometimes He gives us a cross.” A cross. That is painful. It’s supposed to be painful.

He longs for our dependence on Him.

He wants to fill us up.

My answer to Megan, and for you, is that I’m leaning into Him and asking Him what to keep. And what to give up. And some of these things I already know in my heart are not life-giving. There are things in my life that make it nearly impossible for me to be filled by Him. And some are commitments and some are just things hanging in my closet.

How would you answer Megan’s question?

How do we achieve white space without backing out of all of our commitments and alienating ourselves?

This is Day 28 of 31 Days of Creating White Space

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  1. says

    Oh, interesting quote. I read in Luke last night where Christ told us to take up our cross DAILY. I think sometimes we view that as a gift and sometimes as a burden. Psalm 34 and 119 reveal a cross as a ‘learning’ experience. Sometimes those learning experiences are difficult to look at as gifts, aren’t they?

    I’m enjoying your ‘white space’ posts so much. I have spent the last two years creating white space for my family, giving up commitments and holding my ground when saying ‘no’ to something. I have to tell you, the outside world would look at my life and say I have too much white space now, but my girls are thriving because of it. I have to give myself a pep talk regularly when I let outside opinions make me think I’m being selfish with our time when not lending it to others. For too many years I bought into the lie that says ‘if you’re not busy, you’re doing it wrong’. I have to also remind myself that as a family wanting so much to please the Father, our lives simply canNOT look like that of the world’s. It’s a daily choice.

    • says

      I love this, Deidra. Thanks so much for that insight and for your encouragement. That lie is not at all life-giving to us or to our families and it’s so wise of you to realize that you don’t have to do all of those things.

  2. April says

    If you are giving up unnecessary goals or commitments then I don’t think you are alienating yourself. You are just putting yourself and your family first. The way I look at it is that if it’s taking away from your family then you need to give it up or work it in in a way that allows family to come first. My husband and I had this conversation last week. We both work full-time and we have an infant and a 3 year old. From 5 pm until supper is done is my busiest time. I need him to come home straight after work to help me so that I can get supper cooked. He gets off work at 4 and commutes 30 minutes. He also enjoys running and wants to run right after work but it puts him not walking in the door until 6. We had to have a long discussion about how I want him to run but the time he is choosing to run is just not working for this season of life. I am not afraid to admit to him when I need his help and I need it at that time during the day more than any other time. I think sometimes your spouse can have a hard time giving themselves white space. I know that mine does and he has lots of other commitments outside the home that involve our church. So sometimes creating white space doesn’t just mean you, it involves your spouse as well so that your entire family can enjoy the white space.

    • says

      I absolutely agree. Most of the things I feel like I can’t get rid of are “good” things, but they’re just not good for my husband or kids in this season. I think it comes down to reevaluating during each season of our lives.

  3. says

    I have loved this series too! Erin, you have given me so much to think about. My husband was out of town over the weekend and I filled up every inch of white space. It was just too much! All fun and good but just too much for us right now.

  4. says

    I have so enjoyed this series! I have a 4yo and a 19 mo, I teach Kindergarten, and I require probably what most would consider an abnormally large amount of white space. Now is just a season of life where I can’t be involved in much other than family and close friend obligations, and luckily I don’t mind not always being busy. Your holiday posts really made me think. I’m one where even the tradition of a meal and how much to cook leaves me stressed if I do it and stressed if I don’t! I love the holidays and want my kids to remember a calm, happy mama, not one running around crazy making 20 side dishes.

  5. says

    For me, I have to ask myself why I feel the need to commit. Am I doing it b/c I feel like God is leading me to or b/c I feel like I’ll let someone down if I don’t? It all comes down to what you said – pressing into Jesus and letting him take the reigns. Sometimes creating white space is saying no to the things you may even want to do in order to be able to serve or step out of your comfort zone for someone else….not just saying no so that we have more “me time.” Such great posts!

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