Space matters. Inner space, outer space, living space, worship space, green space, and personal space, it all matters. Ask anyone who’s lived in high density housing, like the projects, just how much space matters. Watch the news for a wake-up call on how living space can mean the difference between a chance at healthy living, and a high probability of disease. But our living space isn’t just about square footage in our home, the size of our yard, or the size of our office. As a matter of spiritual health, we also have to be attentive to our inner space, because that space governs so much of how we function in all the other spaces of daily life.
Have you ever had one of those days where you seem to lurch from crisis to crisis with barely enough time to get your balance in between? Days where you feel like you’re living in the drama emporium? Or days where you’ve been firefighting all day, and still feel singed and breathless from all the smoke. Please don’t think for one minute that you’re alone by any means! Everyone goes through days like that from time to time. Having said that, if crisis mode is beginning to sound and feel like daily life, then it’s time to clear some space on our schedules. We may well be overdue for an inner space refurbishment so that we’re better equipped to deal with the other arenas of life, both large and small.
Perhaps the hardest part will be finding space on our calendars to make the necessary changes. The frenetic pace of most of our lives isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. It’s well known that in order to be motivated to embrace change, we have to be seriously uncomfortable with our current circumstances. As usual, the Lord is not a disinterested or distant observer of our lives. God desires to be involved in our decisions, and in every aspect of our lives. Even though we often resist, the Lord is proactive in helping us to become aware when change is necessary. Feeling dissatisfied with one or more aspects of life? That’s one way that God tries to alert us, and maybe grab an instant or snapshot of focused attention out of our more usual scattered state of being. The invitation is to slow down or even stop; to simplify or scale down our packed agendas. It’s one way that God frees us to listen more than we talk in prayer. It’s also about being more intentional in recognizing God’s signs of communication, and direction.
Being the go-getter, independent folks that most of us think we are, our innate response to feelings of dissatisfaction can run the gamut of anything and everything from prayer to seeking counseling; quick fixes from the plethora of available worldly diversions, to self-help books; from opting for a casual affair, to seeking a divorce; from taking up a new hobby, to looking for a new job. There are plenty of choices out there. It’s often a real shocker to realize that God is in control, and we’ve been fooling ourselves on a grand scale. If you’ve traveled those roads, take time to ask the hard questions. Did the new job, spouse, car, or whatever actually do more than give you fleeting satisfaction? Did the self-help guide lead to meaningful, lasting and joyful changes in your life?
As children of God, we are dependent creatures. That doesn’t mean we’re God’s puppets, or that we have no free will. The full spectrum of choices is still available to us, and experience is so often the best teacher. For those who seek God, our life in Christ teaches us that we make better choices with Him, than we do in and of ourselves. The good news is that through faith in Christ Jesus our inner space is constantly being renewed, and transforms us from the inside out. With God’s help the transformation we experience in our inner space is made manifest in the world as tangible acts. Our faith in action makes our common space a better place to live, work, and play. The final frontier is God’s growing space; God’s transformation of the whole world for good. Everyone is welcome in this space.
• The Rev. Susan E. Wilmot is priest-in-charge at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church, 975 E. Warner Road, Tempe. Reach her at email@example.com or at (480) 345-2686.