When we moved into our home eight years ago, I was excited to have a walk-in shower with floor to ceiling tile. Though John and I had been married for seven years and I was a mother of three young kids, picking out the tile for my own home served as further confirmation in my mind that I am, in fact, a real grown up now. After all, I picked out my own tile.
The day the tile was installed, I was giddy. It was lovely and clean, and I enjoyed it instantly. But weeks later I started to see a problem with it. The pattern on the tile camouflaged dirt and grime, which meant that by the time it finally looked dirty, it was well past the point of a simple rinse-and-wipe and needed a full-fledged scrubbing.
In many ways this shower situation illustrates a deeper truth about my soul. I’m going through life at what seems to me to be a reasonable clip—a meeting here, a deadline there, and another trip to the grocery store. While I’m doing the regular things that construct a life on the outside, I begin to feel exhausted on the inside. By the time I realize this, I’ve already traveled far past the point of healthy margins.
As it turns out, my soul and my schedule don’t follow the same rules. When my soul feels held hostage by hustle, every area of my life is affected. The relationship dearest to me is often the last one to get attention: my marriage. I’m discovering one of the best ways for me to cultivate a healthy marriage is to create space for my own soul to breathe.
A Simple Way to Create Space
One of my favorite ways to create this kind of space is to sit in the quiet, even for only a few minutes. You can do this too—set a timer for a small amount of time, close your eyes, and allow yourself to sit as a child in the presence of God, without an agenda.
This practice is hard to do simply because it is intangible. It isn’t a time for Bible study or lots of talking prayer; although both of those things could be part of it. Eugene Peterson describes this practice best in The Jesus Way: “We wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies.”
It’s not easy for me to sit still for any amount of time, so I’ve started holding a soup or cereal bowl in my hands as a way to keep my still. The purpose of a bowl is to receive and hold something within it. Like that bowl, my soul is made to receive from God rather than to achieve for God.
During these few moments of silence, I become aware of the signs my soul has been sending to me all along—signs that I need this margin in my life in order to receive the relational gifts God longs to give. Perhaps some of these signs will sound familiar to you as well.