looking through me

Tag: anxiety

white space

Too much white space. That was my first thought.

The image to the left of the text looked awkward and unbalanced. I found another picture to pair with it. It eliminated the rogue white space. The flow improved. The spacing was perfect.

But eliminating white space in my life has never made the flow better. Excess margin is not a problem for me.

My calendar isn’t jam-packed, just full. Yet white space—margin—is more than what’s left around the edges. It’s a way of life. It’s the best yes, not simply learning to say no. It’s respecting that I wasn’t designed to go, go, go. None of us were.

Sabbath. Rest. Stillness. Margin.

It’s more than aesthetics. It’s nonnegotiable.

Quiet moments let me hear the uncertainty and worry thrumming through me. Only then can I trace them back to the source of anxiety gnawing at me.

In still moments I can feel the restlessness and see how it drains me. I can turn it back in fumbled phrases to the One who soothes the places left chafed from striving.

But margin isn’t one size fits all. Neither in quantity nor in practicality.

I need to turn off the TV, to be alone, to let my fingers drum a keyboard until free-form thoughts work their way to coherence. I need to read words of wisdom and listen more than talk as I pray. Those are my regular rhythms to maintain safe borders.

But that’s just me in this season. Sometimes I can handle tighter spaces; other times I have to clear the deck and sit in the openness.

I seek white space. I stake it out and guard it.

White space keeps the text and the images—the noise—from overwhelming my soul.


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I breathe out the word. A long, slow exhale. I feel my shoulders drop—when did they creep up to my ears?—and my spine elongate.

It’s a powerful word.

In the midst of the frenzy, in the midst of the mundane, be still.

Without realizing it I had lumped be still and all its cousins—do not worry about tomorrow, rejoice always, take my yoke—into the category of Some Day. An aspiration for Some Day when everything aligns and all facets of life hum along in perfect harmony for fifteen consecutive minutes.

But the truths of the Bible weren’t recorded in times of tranquility and ease. The words weren’t given to people who had it all together. They were as shocking and improbable to the original audience as they are to me. The first hearers didn’t have the ability to put them on a future to-attempt list; they had to respond that moment. No response—postponing the decision—was itself a choice, a rejection of the opportunity. The same is true for me.

Imperatives are possible. That’s the beautiful part I’ve been missing.

Be still is not an intellectual riddle or a code to be broken or a fanciful dream. I can be still. It’s a truth I am equipped to embody. Not perfectly. Not through my own strength or ability. But as I go about my day, the word whispers through me: still. A check to see what reality I’m living in as I drive, reply to emails, cuddle my nephew, put sheets on the bed, sit in meetings . . . It’s a reminder to find stillness in the only One who can provide it.

So I repeat the word throughout the day. A silent call to rest in Jesus.

As I hear it, my soul settles. The internal pressure lessens. The deep breath illustrates how shallowly I’ve been breathing, how shallowly I’ve been living.

This moment I will be still.


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