Months ago my friend Shelly Miller asked me if I’d write a letter to the Sabbath Society that she hosts and I’m a member of. She was curious to know how being single has intersected with practicing Sabbath. Shelly is one of those people I admire from afar, so I was delighted to be asked.
She currently lives in London but is in the US on a speaking and book tour for her book: Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. Lawrence, Kansas peeps, first of all, hello and are you as excited as I am that basketball season is finally here? Go Hawks! But more to the point, Shelly will be speaking TONIGHT at Christ Community Church, from 7-9 pm. Do you know how much I wish I could be there? Do you?!!! Someone please go and report back to me? Okay? Thanks :).
Anyhoo, here is how learning about whitespace in graphic art helped me when it comes to Sabbath.
I’ve been writing newsletters for over 20 years. I love this form of communication and am delighted to get to write to you.
Here is what I know to be true: work will never be done. If I’m not tuned in, my relationship with work can be like a hamster on its wheel. I’ll start running and feeling like I’m making progress; I’ll keep running thinking I’m really getting somewhere.
There are so many aspects I love about being single. The list is much longer than the challenging parts. But it’s those challenging parts about a stage that we have to own. If we don’t, they can own us and we run the risk of serving them instead of God.
As a single person who is mid-aged and has been in multiple leadership roles in my more than 20-year career in full-time ministry, the majority of my time goes to work. Of course it does! And I love pouring myself into others and seeing God at work in the lives of missionaries around the globe. But the challenging part? I have no spouse waiting for me at dinner. I have no children needing to be put to bed. What I have is another email that could be replied to, another blog post to be written, another person to minister to.
The behind the scenes joke in the organization I served for years—and this may not be fair and I feel a bit uncomfortable sharing this—was that the single women kept the organization running because we could work more than 12 hours a day. I know my married colleagues worked too, I know this. But I also know that when you are single and capable and want to invest, one of the greatest areas of investment is your work.
What does this have to do with Sabbath? Most of you are not at the same stage of life I am currently at, but this is why we need each other. Hearing of unique aspects of another’s paths helps us to walk in each other’s shoes. It also allows us to connect on our points of commonality. The truth is, I think you and I have more in common than we do in difference.
I come back to, what does this have to do with Sabbath and our souls? The greatest gift I have gotten from The Sabbath Society and the Friday letters Shelly writes is the rhythm of stopping. The work will never stop, but God invites me to stop. He uses Sabbath to remind me of what Bonnie Gray said in Finding Spiritual Whitespace:
“In graphic design, whitespace is a key element to the aesthetic quality of composition. The more fine art a composition is, the more whitespace you’ll find. The more commercial the piece, the more text and images you’ll find crowded in. The purpose is no longer beauty. It is commercialization. Is my faith more like art or cluttered advertisement?”
Don’t you love that?
The daily grind of living can slowly turn our lives into cluttered advertisements, can’t it? That’s where I don’t care if you are in your 20s, 70s, at home with little kids or out in the work force, this is the nature of the enemy of our souls: to clutter and hide in plain sight what is important. God, in his infinite loving kindness, uses Sabbath whitespace to help our lives, our souls, our relationships, be works of art.
This is the kind of person I want to be. I may not even know you, but I know it’s the kind of person you want to be too.
Thank you for sharing this journey of the pursing spiritual whitespace. On my own, I couldn’t do it, but with you, together, I see a work of art being formed in and through us.
Until next week,
Where could you use some more white space in your life? How has white space helped you be the kind of person you know God made, instead of the “Eden Lost” version of you, you sometimes are?
Jim Walters says
Oh, this is so timely for many of us today who are engaged in ministry. Of all the Ten Commandments, the one I struggle with most is the principle of “holy rest,” of coming aside before I come apart. We are swimming (dog-paddling) in the fast current of information overload and pulled downstream by the rapids of responsibilities. Yes – for more “white space” …..please!