A fundamental misconception that I encounter as I encourage people to find space to breathe again is that we embrace space as a means to a more comfortable, easy life. Far from it! Those who want a more comfortable life seek higher degrees of control, elevate security and safety, and eventually end up with a life that feels empty. In the short run, this more comfortable life is nice, but eventually it becomes boring. A spacious life is not an empty life.
What is a spacious life, and why should we pursue it?
- A spacious life makes room for people, particularly the people they love the most – Busy, overwhelmed people don’t have time for others. James Dobson writes of the effect busyness has on children, “The inevitable loser from this life in the fast lane is the little guy leaning against the wall with the hands in the pockets of his blue jeans. Crowded lives produce fatigue – and fatigue produces irritability – and irritability produces indifference – and indifference can be interpreted by the child as a lack of genuine affection and personal esteem.” Equally, busyness erodes marriages and friendships.
- A spacious life creates the room necessary to identify priority and execute on that priority – Too many busy people sacrifice reflection and planning, affecting their ability to identify clear priorities. They create a façade of productivity that doesn’t result in meaningful progress.
- A spacious life lives into the higher calling of purpose – It takes spacious time to identify our reason for being and our opportunity for impact. This kind of thinking doesn’t happen in tightly packed schedules. Even then, living into our purpose takes thought, intentionality, and space.
- A spacious life finds peace amid activity and accomplishment – An easy mistake to make is to think about a spacious life in terms of what it can do to make us more effective. This error elevates doing over being. In this way of thinking, we spend time in quiet so that we can be better in our families, in work, and in serving. But life is about more than doing. Life is to be enjoyed and savored. God declared one day of each week as Sabbath, a day without doing. Peace is so elusive because we never stop striving. A spacious life brings the balance between peace and purpose.
Though it may seem obvious, a spacious life begins by having time when nothing is scheduled. Recently, friends of mine were on a trip with another couple to Iceland. On the last day they were scheduled for a full day of sightseeing. A blizzard came through that shut down all of the roads, forcing them to hole in at their hotel for the entire day. They described it as the most delightful day as they spent the time in relaxed conversation and playing fun board games together. The forced “Sabbath” was a highlight of their trip.
A spacious life need not be a fantasy. It begins with small steps to resist the distraction and consumerism of our culture and lean into God’s rhythm of purpose and rest. Small steps taken repeatedly move us miles.