Trust the empty spaces in your future

muffin and tea

muffin and teaGauzy white curtains from ceiling to floor sway from the easy breeze coming in through the window. The honey-colored wood floors gleam in the afternoon sunlight. You don’t have anywhere you have to be. As you sit in grey cotton clothes and slippers, you relax in languid laziness.

Someone has brought you tea along with a fresh baked muffin. The tea rests next to your journal and you watch the steam swirl as it rises. You feel loved and well-rested.

In the room, there’s only your writing table with chairs and a couch. Friends describe your house as spacious.

You make meal plans and follow them. You own few things so you travel light. Your finances are in order with no debt. You’re like a Buddhist monk, structured and disciplined, detached from the chaos of fortune.

You live according to plan and follow a simple schedule. Your life is a wide expanse, like fields of snow that go on as far as the eye can see: clean, white, sparkling.

You live in the moment. Time, space and your sense of peace seem unending.

This is my fantasy.


Heavy black-out curtains hang still. I can’t open the windows because it’s too hot or too cold. On the four days the weather is decent for window opening in Missouri, I don’t dare do it because the screens are missing and the bugs are bad.

I’m late or rushing for the next place to be. Without the help of generous friends, my life wouldn’t work. For the rare hours I’m home, I catch up with laundry which never seems to get put away so I pick outfits out of baskets. The stained carpet should have been replaced seven years ago.

My kitchen table is a jumble of cracker boxes, mail, school papers plus a collection of things that don’t belong anywhere obvious as if the table doubles as a shelter for homeless items. Friends describe my house as cozy and “interesting because you have so many different things to look at.”

I sometimes have crackers and cheese or fast food for dinner. My student loan debt is a big number.

We have three people, two dogs, two cats and eight houseplants in a thousand square feet.

Every room in my house is full of books, games, shoes, stacks of papers, toys, clothes in baskets, dog supplies, horse supplies, cat supplies and yarn (which also doubles as a cat toy and could be categorized in cat supplies, if you asked the cats. They might also categorize yarn as a decorating item, based on how the house looks on our return when I’m absent-minded and leave a yarn ball out. Remember how we used to teepee houses as teenagers? Now our cats do that to us with yarn).

My mind is in the future or the past. I worry about who and what I’m neglecting.

This is my real life.

Can you relate?

Are you like me? Do you fill the rooms of your house with unneeded items? Your closet with more clothes than fit in it? Your schedule with more activities than are comfortable? Your budget with more expenses than income? Your mind with more fear and criticism than peace and kindness?

We have a fear of the blank page and the unseen future. As fast as we can, we color the empty spaces in the coloring book of our lives. We don’t like pauses so we fill them in with ums instead.

We can teach ourselves to act in a different way.

Just for this week, what part of your life could you leave intentionally blank?

For me, just for this week, I will welcome the unexpected like a snow day, the quiet from a power outtage and the times of waiting. I’ll ease up on my push to produce, procure and perform.

I will give myself time to be at peace. Does this mean I stop moving? Doubtful (see previous paragraphs about pets who like twice-daily food). Peace doesn’t have to be an artificial stillness or a forced serenity. I will look for peace in the motions of my daily life. I’ll take a deep breath and smile. I’ll accept each moment as it is.

Rest is part of God’s plan for us. We don’t have to do it all and fill it all in.

Remember the words in Psalm 23 are in present tense, offering you revitalization right now,”He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.”

We can trust in the empty spaces. Goodness is there for us even if it doesn’t have a visible shape.

Let the peace that transcends understanding give you room to breathe. A room with gauzy white curtains swaying…

12 thoughts on “Trust the empty spaces in your future

  1. Gen,

    I think the world of you. Thanks for your words–so meangingful today as I try to work while at the exact same time caring for my sick son.


  2. One of those days when I had a few opportunities to learn to be flexible. Prayer sustains me when my plans keep changing and I keep finding detours. What a wondrous essay, Gen.

  3. In a chaotic world seemingly filled with anxiety, tension and deadlines, you are right, it is so important to breathe and have hope. Wonderful words, Gen.

  4. Wow.Genevieve, I love your reflections. A real true “light” in this busy world for sure. I am so very glad Pastor Tim talked about your blog a couple weeks ago at our book discussion as I would not have know about it otherwise. Great thoughts, beautiful writing! Keep it coming A fan for sure! Pat Klein.

Leave a Reply to Genevieve Howard Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s