Days 20 and 21: Finding Spiritual Whitespace—What Your Heart Seeks

Roy Lessin reminds us: “Everyone is a seeker. We seek because there is something we need, something that is missing, something that tells us there must be more.”

We seek contentment, happiness, fulfillment, security, acceptance, hope, love, joy, peace, friendship, balance, and, often, to find meaning, as well as our place in this world.

For those who have been regularly following my blog posts, you’ll remember that a while back I read the book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray. Since then, I have shared many of my favorite quotes, and decided to take an active part in her 21 Days of Rest Blog Tour. Little did I know, at the time, what a commitment that would be. Of course, Bonnie did not ask me or her other followers to do this but I had discovered a lot of really good thoughts from her book that I wanted to share. However, I wasn’t always able to “keep up,” and I began to feel like I took on more than I should have.

The Best YesBecause of this, as well as several other poor choices, Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands,  is now on my “to be read” list. Lysa points out that “there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God.” Those of us who are people pleasers or stressed by an “overwhelmed schedule and underwhelmed soul” will likely get a great deal out of this book and the tools provided in it for better processing our thoughts and actions. If you haven’t heard of this book yet, click on the link above and read more about it.

In Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie shares that “The world calls us to hide our stressed-out selves. But Jesus calls us to a radical new rest. … Jesus invites us into a new relationship to set our hearts free. Jesus wants us to bring him what’s real and worrisome as well as what’s simple and beautiful.”

Simple Beauty

“Taking time for whitespace to rest, create, and play—
to laugh, enjoy friends, see new places,
and explore new adventures—
is heart-freeing faith.”
Bonnie Gray

On Bonnie’s post for Day 20: Find Me in the Quiet Places: A Little Big Change, she shares some of the ways that she seeks rest from stress and/or the daily grind by choosing to meet Jesus in the quiet spaces. These moments don’t have to be long or regularly scheduled; the “moments will come, if you listen to your soul…”

As you come to a fork in the road in your day today and this week — between choosing the quiet or filling it up with doing, performing, pleasing, or disappearing — stop.

Choose what’s harder, but more soul-filling.

Choose to spend that time doing something no one would be able to point at it and say, “She is someone. She did something.”

And choose to be loved instead.

Butterfly

On Day 21, Bonnie posted Me & the Military: It Changed Me to share with her readers the results of her first multi-day Spiritual Whitespace Retreat, which she was invited to lead for the Wounded Transition Battalion headquartered in Fort Campbell, KY. (The retreat was held earlier in September in Nashville, TN.) While she originally intended to speak to soldiers, the focus changed and she ended up working with a group of officers and their wives. She asked herself: “What does a Chinese-American 5 foot woman born in San Francisco, Chinatown — who suffered PTSD for the past two years with broken memories, uncontrollable anxiety and insomnia — have to say to officers caring for injured soldiers, wounded from the battlefield?”

Leaders who have been in combat themselves are reliving [their experiences] through the soldiers they care for 24 hours-a-day, on-call 7 days a week. Phone calls wake them up at crazy hours during the night. By day, they look into eyes of soldiers who are confused, angry or depressed to guide them on the disorienting journey of healing and recovery. They are responsible for each soldier’s disorienting transition back to active duty, or for some with irreversible injuries, prepare them for the unexpected re-entrance into civilian life.

It’s soul-wearying work.

It’s a heavy burden to carry because it’s often the strong ones — the encouragers – the doers –

who carry the heaviest burdens,

and incur the greatest emotional and physical cost,

who find it hard to express want or need,

while finding it easier to just get things done,

even if they truly long to receive comfort,

yet can’t seem to give themselves permission to rest.

Like many of us who doubt ourselves, Bonnie’s biggest fear was whether she was good enough, qualified enough, to lead this group on a soul journey toward discovery and rest. Then it struck her: The weekend was about experiencing Spiritual Whitespace, not teaching it. The event included storytelling, journaling, connecting to God through silence and solitude on a solo nature walk or through prayer and meditation, even painting. It was about facing fears and becoming real in community. And it was successful!

We all have stories…

On the outside, we might look different. But, inside, we’re all on the same journey.

We’re all on the same mission.

To be loved.

To be known.

To be close to God.

To each other.

We all long for rest…

We can all live lives that include rest and refreshment by taking the time to develop an intimacy, a deep relationship, with Jesus. He knows what moves us and encourages us; he knows what spiritual whitespace looks like for each of us. And once we discover the ways our own needs for renewal can be met—through nature, music, God’s Word, song lyrics, art (our own creativity or that of others), etc.—we can reach out and help others discover the beauty, the transformational nature, the freeing power, of walking in faith with Jesus in the quiet of our hearts.

 

 21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

 

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Discouraged? There’s Help for Your Heart.

What Your Heart NeedsI am currently working my way through a wonderful new book by Holley Gerth: What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days: 52 Encouraging Truths to Hold On To. And I am finding so many words of encouragement that I can personally relate to. In fact, I have already flagged a number of pages that I know I will want to go back to so I can reread and savor the messages on days when I might be feeling a bit discouraged.

Holley is a best-selling writer, licensed counselor, certified life coach, and speaker. I have followed her blog: Heart to Heart with Holley (www.holleygerth.com) for quite some time now and often share her posts or some of her words or graphics with friends and family on my Facebook page.

Holley also works in partnership with DaySpring, one of the largest publishers and distributors of Christian greeting cards (and other inspirational products) in the world. Plus, she is the cofounder of (in)courage, an online “home for the hearts of women,” which I love; I have found so many great articles and bloggers through this site.

In fact, there was a recent post on (in)courage from Renee Swope titled “Words for the Weary” that made me think of Holley and the importance of her newest book. To me, Holley Gerth is the encourager of encouragers.  

Words of Encouragement

If you haven’t heard of (in)courage before, you should check them out.

So, back to the book: What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days contains 52 similarly formatted devotions based on the book of Psalms, written in a way that helps us remember that “God is good and we’re all in this together.”

Because there are 52 entries, you could easily use this book as a weekly devotional to be processed over a year, taking your time to read the opening Scripture quote and Holley’s words. Then adding your own words to complete the prayer, which has already been started for you under “What My Heart Is Saying to You.” During the week, you can go back and write in your thoughts under “What My Heart Is Hearing from You,” and at any time, you can open your Bible and read and reflect on the three Psalms referenced at the end of that week’s entry.

Of course, the devotions are short enough that you could also choose to read them as daily devotions. Either way, in this comforting book, Holley invites us “to be filled with the strength, peace, and joy that come from God’s promises.”

She provides real-life stories for us to connect with, as well as encouraging thoughts and passages from God’s Word to help us focus on what’s really important—the internal and the eternal.

All we have to do is be willing to open our hearts and receive.

Open Your Heart

Already a fan of Holley Gerth, her latest book does not disappoint. Not only will you find this book to be soothing for your own soul, but it would make a great gift for a hurting friend or perhaps even a wonderful donation at a women’s shelter. It is also the perfect companion to one of Holley’s other books: You’re Going to Be Okay.

I hope you get an opportunity to read What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days. I will likely be posting excerpts from it in the days ahead.

God Exerts His Strength

“God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.”

Psalm 46:5

“The Lord is my strength and my shield:
my heart trusts in him,
and I am helped.”

Psalm 28:7

 

Disclosure: This book was sent to me free of charge
from Revell for my honest review.

 

Day 17: Finding Spiritual Whitespace in Forgiveness

We’ve all been wronged or hurt by others at some point in our lives. Sometimes those who hurt us didn’t really mean to, and they apologize. That is a wonderful thing. But, in especially traumatic circumstances, often the person is never confronted with the truth of their actions, or if it is brought to light, they deny that it even happened. That’s when we have to decide if we are going to forgive them anyway. Not for their sake, but for our own.

Forgive Others

Part of the problem with forgiving others comes with the interpretation of what forgiveness really means.

Wikipedia defines it as follows: Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).

Forgiveness

After writing about her own personal traumas while growing up, and exposing some of the heart-wrenching situations she experienced with both of her parents, Bonnie Gray, author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace has been asked in several interviews: Have you forgiven those who hurt you? How has forgiveness played a role in your story.

In her blog post “What Does It Mean to Really Forgive?” Bonnie explains what forgiveness DOESN’T mean:

Forgiveness does not mean trust is freely granted or automatically restored.

Forgiveness does not mean you don’t have boundaries, if their actions are unhealthy or cause you emotional, spiritual, [or] physical harm.

Forgiveness does not mean giving someone who has hurt you license to hurt you again.

Forgiveness does [not] mean open borders to toxicity, fear or intimidation to manipulate you into being the friend, girlfriend, co-worker, daughter, ministry worker, wife, … (fill in the blank), fashioned in someone else’s image. …

Forgiveness does not mean we don’t talk about it.

Forgiveness does not mean we hide our stories. And pretend it didn’t happen.

We’re all broken in some way. We all have wounds.

So, we still have to take the journey to heal, to grieve, and cry — in order to find what’s beautiful, to awaken our hearts to what’s real.

So, we can take better care of ourselves. To feed our souls. And begin to dream again.

 Follow the link above to Bonnie’s post for today and read the whole thing. As usual, she shares some beautiful thoughts and reminds us of the importance of creating spiritual whitespace “to make room to receive from God what we’ve lost.”

Forgiveness

How would forgiveness free up spiritual whitespace — room to rest and nurture your soul?

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Day 12: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

I seem to have come down with a summer cold. So, even though Bonnie Gray posted her Day 12 (21 Days of Rest Blog Tour) post yesterday, I’m getting my related one out today. I’m keeping it short though, as I really do need my rest in order to feel better faster.

Bonnie shares in her post that we all pay the price when we put ourselves last … “we somehow feel like if we choose to take care of ourselves, we are rejecting God and our usefulness to Him.” Maybe, we’re also a little afraid to face what we may uncover in the quiet.

Afraid to Face the Truth

But when we make space for quiet and rest, we give ourselves the gift of rediscovering our dreams and bringing them with us on our journey to wholeness.

“We need spiritual whitespace to feed our dreams. …

Sometimes, it’s easy to give yourself away,
when you no longer carry any hope for the dreams you once held.

Sometimes it takes more faith to revisit dreams
that have stalled than asking for faith to forget about them.”

Give Yourself Permission

Uncover your story.
Take the journey of rest in Bonnie’s memoir-driven guidebook:
Finding Spiritual Whitespace.”

This book is for you.

findingspiritualwhitespace_book-194x300

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Day 11: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

On Day 11 of Bonnie Gray’s 21 Days of Rest Blog Tour, she talks with author and fellow blogger Kathi Lipp about Finding Rest in a World of “Go.” If you’d like to listen in to their conversation, there is a podcast (and more information) available on both Bonnie’s and Kathi’s blogs. I am attempting to add it here as well. Let me know if it works as I’ve never done that before. 🙂

Click Here for podcast.

My favorite part of their conversation was when Bonnie explained how her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening the Soul to Rest, was not about physical rest or the logistics we need to work out to arrange time for rest or space; it’s about nurturing our souls.

What would happen if we allowed ourselves a moment of solitude … to pause … to breathe.

We Are God's Artwork

Function, productivity, purpose, goals … these things shouldn’t come first in our lives. We do. … You do.

We all long for rest. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. How this looks is different for each of us depending on our circumstances and our season in life. You may not be able to seek it every day or even every week. But give yourself permission and time to find your moments and determine what speaks most clearly and dearly to your heart.

Value Our Hearts

Remember, even Jesus withdrew from the crowds for rest. He would want the same thing for us.

I pray that you will begin to discover your own spiritual whitespace to recharge, refresh, and restore your soul.
(I’m still working on it myself.)

Come to Me

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

 

Day 10: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Quiet doesn’t always mean silence. Quiet is a desire. A listening of the soul. To be available – vulnerable – asking – sharing questions – doubts – wants – needs.

Quiet is making room to receive.

Quiet moments can come when you least expect them.  They are fleeting glimpses – taps on your shoulder – to let you know God is whispering to you –

I am near.

I love you.

I am thinking of you.

Sharing more words today from Bonnie Gray’s blog post (Day10 of her 21 Days of Rest blog tour). Read more on the quest for rest by following the link to her blog or by picking up her book: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest.

Fully Receive

Awakening our hearts … making room to fully receive … definitely some ideas to think about as we all attempt to get through our to-do lists and jam-packed schedules.

Why is it that we find it so hard to allow ourselves some time for quiet … stillness … peace … refreshment?

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass
under the trees  on a summer’s day, listening to
the murmur of water, or watching the clouds
float across the blue sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
Sir John Lubbock, The Use of Life

Clouds

If you’re also reading Bonnie’s book, please share some of your favorite lines or you own discoveries. How is the book speaking to you? How are you making time for quiet and rest?

“The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

 

Day 7: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

“Sometimes solitude is the only place you can
go to feel safe enough to fall apart.”
Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest,
by Bonnie Gray

There is a big difference between being lonely and enjoying solitude. I work from home, so I spend a lot of time by myself. And I’m okay with that (most of the time). But I do recall many times in my past when I felt all aloneeven when surrounded by other people. I think this often occurs when we are suffering silently with an issue that we don’t feel we can share with others. Maybe it’s too painful or perhaps when we compare our problems to those of others, they seem so unworthy or insignificant. Especially for those of us who are nurturers, we tend to push our own problems aside or shove them down so deep that we “erase” them. Sometimes they stay down or hidden, and we never actually deal with past emotional traumas. Other times, they force their way to the surface when we least expect it.

That’s what happened to Bonnie Gray, the FaithBarista.com blogger and newly published author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace. In Bonnie’s Day 7 blog tour post (part of her book launch) she writes a letter to her lonely seven-year-old self (whom she “re-encountered” with the help of a therapist while experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). I love these words from her letter:

There is someone who collects every drop of your
tears who sits by you at bedside every night. He
knows you find it hard to sleep and it breaks his
heart you cannot feel the touch of his hand on yours.

That someone is Jesus.

And He isn’t going to let these hard years, these
hard moments pass by unnoticed. Unspoken.
Unacknowledged.

It will be painful when you finally realize just how
loved you are, because in order to be found, you
will have to realize you have been lost.

It’s okay. Because this is how you will know that
you are known.
This someone named Jesus will take all your broken pieces.

And He will make something new and beautiful.

Solitude

Sometimes we need a special kind of solitude or spiritual whitespace to walk with God and have a real soul conversation with Jesus.

In her book and on her blog post, Bonnie suggests that we write a letter to our younger selves as part of a self-discovery and healing processWhat would we say to her, knowing what we know now? Another one of Bonnie’s readers, Laura, posted a very beautiful and touching letter to her six-year-old self that serves as a strong reminder of the power that parents, or other loved ones, can have over building up or tearing down children. If you know the childhood rhyme: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” I’m sure you recognize it as a falsehood. Because words are powerful things. And they can hurt. So remember to speak them with care over your children … or to anyone, really.

If you are still carrying around old wounds and battle scars from your past, take time to acknowledge that inner child—who she was, what she experienced, and how she felt. You’ll find Bonnie’s book to be a very helpful resource during this process. Even though her own story unfolds throughout the book, each chapter provides journaling prompts, so you can figure out what may be keeping you from spiritual rest and work on exploring, embracing, and enhancing your own story.

Letting Go

“When we think about spending time with God, we often beat ourselves up for not spending enough time. The guilt kills intimacy of the heart. Whitespace doesn’t keep track of the amount of time. Time doesn’t exist in whitespace. Spiritual whitespace takes place in the eternity of our hearts.”

Remember, God’s presence in our lives and in our hearts is what’s important.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done
from beginning to end.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

Bonnie reading from her book in California at a book launch party (photo by Janine Crum)

 

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace