Welcoming the White Space

It’s quiet now. That time of the year when we finally catch our breath.

The Christmas parties and family gatherings have mostly concluded. It isn’t quite time to ring in the new year.

It’s the white space.

I used to think the week between Christmas and New Year’s was one of the most boring of the year. All the excitement of one holiday wrapped up. The anticipation and planning for a new year not quite here yet.

But over the past few years, this week has become one of my favorites. Our family lets out a collective exhale.

We sleep in and make cinnamon toast. We clean out and deep clean. We play outside as much as the weather allows.

Around the table we finally have time and space to talk, reflect, and dream. What marked us last year? What do we want to make of a next one? What are we grateful for? What do we want to learn from?

I’m not one to make goals or resolutions. But I do think there’s power in reflection. Without space to think, examine, and pray, we miss valuable lessons along the way.

That’s why white space matters—and not just once a year. We need white space in our days and our weeks. But if I’m honest, that space has been strikingly absent as of late.

Earlier this year we plucked up our family and moved four hours from the place we’d always called home. It was a big move in every sense. We said goodbye to friends we’d shared life with for a decade or two. Our boys hugged their buddies, the ones they’d played with since they were babies. We packed up the largest U-Haul to the brim and set out to serve in a new place.

We’ve seen God’s faithfulness at every turn. But often I was too hurried to take it all in. We went from unpacking, to meet-the-teacher, to new carpool routes.

In the midst of all the adjustments, I simply didn’t stop. And when I did, too often it was to check my phone or add something to my list.

Life was full—but I was missing its beauty. The first steps of our one-year-old. The first save my oldest made as a goalie on his new soccer team. The first day of preschool for our middle son.

I saw them. But I’m not sure I enjoyed them to the fullest. Because when your life is missing white space, an inner unsettledness takes over. You’re always worried about what’s next. You’re always focused on checking things off your list.

Artists always check for white space. It’s what makes a beautiful piece complete. The perfectly positioned use of white, or blank, space allows your eye to properly take everything in. Without it the piece feels cluttered and chaotic.

Our lives are much the same. We need space to take in all the day gives us—to savor the good, to grieve the hard things, to glean the lessons. But when we never stop, we miss some of the richness. We simply can’t absorb it all.

So this week I’m welcoming the white space. We packed in a lot this year. And I still need to process. Maybe I’ll even make that my goal for next year.

More white space.

Are you with me?

Amanda DeWitt is a freelance writer, coach's wife, and mom. She completed her bachelor’s at Dallas Baptist University and holds a M.A. in media and communication from Dallas Theological Seminary. When she's not typing away at her computer, she's chasing her two little boys or watching her husband coach high school football.

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