Keep Empty Spaces

“Without margin, each of us would have great difficulty guaranteeing availability. Instead, when God calls, He gets the busy signal.”
– Richard Swenson

Keep Empty Spaces

Eβ€”Empty Spaces

Have you ever felt closed in? Perhaps you do when you open a kitchen junk drawer or an overflowing bedroom closet.

When things are too crowded together, there’s no breathing space.

While God may be in stuff, our belongings, our collections, he is also the glue that keeps all our empty spaces connected.

Try This

Look for holes today. Empty spots. Blank spaces.

  • Maybe it’s a vacant spot on a shelf.
  • Or an empty photo frame.
  • Or an unfilled glass sitting by the sink.

Imagine God breathing in the empty spaces. View them as open areas where God is sitting with you, wanting you to luxuriate in a little extra breathing room, a spaciousness that he fills with himself.

Take a few deep breaths and notice the space around you where your exhale goes. God is in the unfulfilled spaces as much as he is in the things he created around them.

Thank him for the margins in your life, for the gaps that allow you to move about.

Sit with him in the empty spaces for a few more minutes, then return to your day.

Further Reading

* * *

Where do you see an empty space in your environment? Are you comfortable with it? How is God there?Β Please share in the comments.

Next in the series:

Index: See all 26 ways to encounter God here.


updated from the archives

38 thoughts on “Keep Empty Spaces

  1. Bill (cycleguy)

    I need some empty spaces, spaces where life is not cluttered with details. I had that this past Monday but need more. I plan to ride my bike today. That is a white space for me. Thanks for the encouragement Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Hope you’re getting that bike time today, Bill. Sounds like a perfect white space. I’m still recuperating after my daughter’s wedding last weekend and wanting a little more white space myself. I need to just set some time aside today to be still.

  2. Karen

    I love this! My husband decided to ‘surprise’ me by ripping out all the shelves in our large walk-in pantry and giving it a make over. While it will be wonderful when it’s finished, we are now on week 2 of all the contents of the shelves being dumped all over my den floor, tables and chairs and there isn’t any room on my kitchen counters. Empty space is definitely what I need right now. Your post is perfect… challenging me to look for ’empty spaces’ and being grateful for even a small amount of margin that God gives in my life. Thanks!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, my. I would have a hard time with all that clutter too, Karen. πŸ™‚ We’ve had an extra amount of clutter in our home the past few weeks as we prepared for our daughter’s wedding. But now it’s over, so I’ve been opening up some empty spaces this week and loving the breathing room! Hope your renovation goes quickly. It will be worth it in the end.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love margins too, Linda. So you’d think I’ve make sure I create more! Sigh. It’s usually my own fault when I don’t. Agreeing with you: “Embracing it all calms my mind, body, soul.”

  3. Rebecca

    What a beautiful idea; God in the physical empty spaces really makes it possible to come to everyday activities with a contemplative posture of listening and observing. Looking into my half empty coffee cup, I look forward to implementing this mindset to focus me on what truly matters today.
    (I’m a “neighbor” link up on the 31 day challenge)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for sharing where you see empty spaces today, Rebecca. Similarly, I see empty spaces in half filled vases of water and flowers, and empty spaces where lots of wedding preparation stuff was last week, but is now gone this week. Yay. πŸ™‚ I love all the ways God shows up to us.

  4. Jerralea

    “Overload leads to pain. The prescription is margin. The prognosis is health.” Oh my, so true! I’m looking for margin in my life – desperately!

    I also like the idea of sitting with God in the empty spaces. I think one of the reasons I like to go to the lake and sit with God is the outdoors is a pretty big empty space that He can fill. πŸ™‚

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sitting by the lake is great example of an empty space, Jerralea. Maybe I should do that myself today! I can’t seem to get my mind unwound after Jenna’s wedding this weekend. I built a lot of margin into this week in preparation, but I guess I still want more. πŸ™‚

  5. Crystal Storms

    Love this, Lisa! I’m learning to be comfortable with empty spaces, to see their beauty. I’ve spent too long filling up each nook, leaving no room to breathe. Thank you, sweet friend, for confirming words God is speaking to me and sharing your heart. : )

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Crystal. I think some of us overfill our spaces and some of us underfill. But we all need a balance. So grateful for God’s grace to continue working with us to find our sweet spots!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks again for the heads-up on the overzealous spam-catcher. I’m sure there’s a spiritual lesson in there somewhere. Maybe I need to find an empty space and pray it out. πŸ™‚

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Too many of us too often feel that “too full” feeling. πŸ™ But yes, God is always with us, no matter what. Intentionality is definitely a key factor in being aware of his presence. Thanks, TC.

  6. Kelly Basham

    “God is in the unfulfilled spaces as much as he is in the things he created around them.”– what a wonderful way of looking at the empty spaces in our lives! I’m in a slow season of waiting. I keep feeling restless. And truth be told, it feels a little empty at times. I need to remember that God has breathed life into the slow and empty seasons too. Thank you for the reminder Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Being in a season of waiting is a great example of an empty space, Kelly. I’m sorry that you’re in it (aren’t they usually so uncomfortable?), but I pray that you will feel God breathing life there, too. Blessings to you.

  7. June

    I’ve always been struck by the scriptures about Jesus going out into the wilderness, the desert, and desolate places. The margins of our lives. Perhaps the places we tend to avoid. But your reminder (and scripture’s) that God is there in these empty places encourages me to see them differently and perhaps even to seek them. Have a blessed day, Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Good point, June. It reminds me of something Richard Rohr says about staying on the inside of the outer edge of the church. Still belong to the community, but don’t feel like you have to be at the hub all the time. Hang out with those on the edges, in the margins. Have a blessed weekend!

  8. Jean Wise

    I am really bad at this, When we vacationed the end of September I proudly penciled in “white” space the week before and this week afterwards. HA both weeks filled up anyway. major. fail. will keep trying to learn this hard skill for me. WOW that first quote really struck me. I need to copy that one down for my journal. Thanks for a thought provoking post that really hit my heart. God is telling me something….

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Glad this meant something to you, Jean. It comes for me in a week that I intended to have more white space after Jenna’s wedding. Did I succeed? Um, doubtful. ha. But I did take it a little easier, and spent time yesterday wandering outside a little longer with the dog. Now I’m off to Ian Cron’s Enneagram conference!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It was an amazing conference! It’s going to take me awhile to process it all. One thing I discovered was that instead of being a 1–the perfectionist, I might be a 5–the investigator. ha.

  9. Lori

    I love this, Lisa. “God is in the unfulfilled spaces as much as he is in the things he created around them.” – He is everywhere. I’m thankful He is there. Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re welcome, Lori. Just discovered this comment slipped into my spam folder somehow. So thankful God is much better than spam filters at separating the “approved” from the trash. πŸ™‚ Thanks for hosting us each Thursday at Thankful Thursdays!

  10. Shannon

    I think I tend to pack my life with stuff (not physical stuff, but a busy schedule and long lists of things to do) because not having stuff leaves me feeling insecure. I need to have more open spaces because these allow for rest and I think I can see God moving in my life more easily when there is space for it.

  11. Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Just as I have been going from drawer to drawer, cleaning out the accumulated junk, I need to go room by room in my heart and clear space for God to enter in. I’m great at filling things up. I think God would like me to do some more emptying out. Thanks for the encouraging call to do this.
    Bev xx

    ps. You have to share a pic of you and your granddaughter baking together if you do get her the Easy Bake Oven πŸ˜‰

  12. Susan @ My Place to Yours

    Oh, Lisa, this definitely resonates with me. Our farm is the one place where vast, empty space calmed my spirit every single time. Living there (even in the trailer!) for two years was such a giftβ€”and why I’m struggling to let it go now that we won’t be building our home there. I’ve never experienced a more powerful place to sit in stillness with God, and I can’t imagine what He has planned to replace it in the future. But I’m trying to trust… and asking him to help my unbelief. Thanks for this encouragement today to look for the empty places wherever I am.

  13. Martha J Orlando

    We most definitely need those empty spaces in our lives, those margins where God is always welcome. We can’t connect with Him if all He hears when He calls is our deafening busy signal. Great reminder today, Lisa, for us to slow down, take a deep breath, and rest in the Lord.

  14. Theresa Boedeker

    Finding God in empty spaces. What a great idea. I often think of God when I am outside. That is an empty space for my mind. Sometimes in the house, I have to look harder. So much is calling to me. I like your idea of noticing small empty spaces in the environment. I am going to try this.

  15. Laurie

    I love this exercise in mindfulness, Lisa. It is true that we don’t pay attention to the spaces in between, but God is there, filling the void. We should be thankful for the margins.

  16. Lynn D. Morrissey

    I appreciate this, Lisa, as I declutter heart and home currently. I am reminded of this quote by Thoreau from Walden: β€œI had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust.” I know it is not exactly what you’re talking about, but he reminds us not to collect stuff that will just collect dust, and will clutter up our lives. Did you know that “clutter” derives from clotter (from clotteren) meaning to “clot.” Clutter clots, much like too much cholesterol clots the arteries. Space helps us to spread out and breathe. I read this secular book, and liked it. I don’t agree w/ all its philosophies, but still, I found parts of it useful. Given your topic, I thought it would apply: Breathing Room: Open Your Heart by Decluttering Your Home. Thanks again so much for sharing. I always love reading your “stuff”! πŸ™‚

  17. Maree Dee

    I continually need to hit the pause button because I don’t schedule enough empty space. I am a work in progress. I do find when I have margin; I hear God speak. It is in those sacred times I hear Him so clear.

    Thank you for linking up this post with Grace & Truth Link-Up. I needed it this morning.


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