Photo Credit: Jon Hansen
I carved out a bit more space this season as a response to a God who whispered for it. For months, I have known that I needed it. But I didn’t know what I needed it for. I was actually a bit afraid that I might be missing something, that more space would leave me wishing I had ignored the feeling. And what was going to fill the space? But I did not need to worry. God is filling the spaces with all kinds of things I did not know I had been missing.
There is more space for enjoying my kitchen, for the simple joy of rinsing an apple, and cutting it into slices with a spoonful of peanut butter for dipping. There is peace in pulling out a cutting board and chopping an onion before I know what I will do with it. We made muffins and ate the extra chocolate chips out of the measuring cups. I had forgotten how much I love to make soup and make extra to bring to a friend.
The wonder of a Saturday without plans sprawling out before us in morning pyjamas. Dragging the sleds down the block and laying in the snow. Rosy cheeks and hot cocoa and runny noses. Lacing up skates and frozen thighs. Sending carrots out the front door for a snowman. Wrestling with little people before bedtime with an ever-growing set of rules designed to ensure that kids win. One more story and one more after that.
It has been too long since my mind had space to wander, set free from unrelenting focus on the next thing. The luxury of daydreaming. Time to find and listen to favourite songs, to get lost in the music and dance in the living room. Space to think about the best way to do something and to ask for forgiveness when I fail. Falling asleep without lists running through my head.
Conversation that shows up only after several rounds of silence. Silly jokes that have not found their punch lines. An unexpected coffee date with my dad. Time for tea when there is a knock at the door. Grocery store conversations that do not need to be rushed. Even space to get tired of hearing, “Guess what, Mom?”
Leaving the laundry for tomorrow because it does not have to get done today. Space to ask for help with the dishwasher and kids who complain while they unload it. Jackets on the floor that get hung up by someone who is not me because I remember that it is not easier for me to do it myself.
In the spaces between the surprises, I have been noticing again. My husband, sitting in the chair, with the kids climbing on him while he reads a story and winks at me when he makes a joke they only partially appreciate. Being aware of my eyes filling up with tears at the beauty of the sunrise while I drive my kids to school. Realizing that I am tired, or happy, or curious, and resting, or celebrating, or asking questions as a response.
I hate the word busy and the way our world uses it like a badge of honour. We have come to measure our worth by how much stuff we cram into our lives, how little space we have. And I have been too busy, my life filled with too many good things. I need more space, and no one is going to carve it out for me. I did not let them when they tried.
In just a few weeks, God has filled the space with such amazingly good things and I catch myself uncomfortable with the freedom of it. I have already sorted out a dresser full of clothes, and moved a bedroom, and put away the Christmas stuff. My constant impulse is to move and to do and to fill up the empty spaces: Shouldn’t I be doing something right now? Maybe I should clean out a closet?
And maybe I should sit a few minutes more and see who wakes up first. Maybe there is space for another cup of tea, and one more chapter in a novel. Maybe the mess in the bedroom needs to be the furthest thing from my mind because in twenty years, my kids will not remember that I cleaned it up today, but they might remember the fort we built and how they slept in it after they stayed up to late with flashlights.
When I fill my calendar, do I leave room for the miracles God wants to work in the empty spaces? For a long time, I have been learning that saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else. When I choose too much, I not only miss out on some amazing people and possibilities, but I also forget what I am missing. What I know today, for now, is that I still need a little more space…