Howdy, friend! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m now rounding third on! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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As a continual student of art (while teaching a little art in homeschool this year) and of photography, I’ve observed an interesting trend in my own preferences, from the time that I enjoyed the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, till now as I look at which of the Hubs’ photographs will take up wall space in our home.

I often love pictures and paintings with small but interesting subjects, and a beautiful heap of negative space.

Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape. {Definition from wikipedia}

There is something enthralling for me — perhaps its a sense of how small we are, compared to the magnitude of the universe, but still how precious and important we are, in the eyes of our Creator.

This picture is from the highlands of Scotland, where the Hubs was doing a winter skills course.

Blowing a Hoolie!

The hikers in front of him obviously create an interesting subject, but it’s the vastness of the snowy clouds, the rolling hills and the bright white snow that give the photo its interest. Standing in front of this photo, printed at a large size, I am usually transfixed for a few moments, feeling like I could step into that space, too. But first I’d need my ski coat…

Negative space – the space that isn’t busy doing something, busy filled with something – still brings something very positive to the image. And the same is the case for our own lives.

We often see the time where we are sitting still, enjoying quiet and solitude as time wasted. But the thoughts that best create things worth writing about often come to me when I’m not busy.

We are often tend to think that we should create large and long to-do lists for ourselves, and that we should then scramble to scratch as many things off the list as possible during our day. I sometimes catch myself feeling guilty for taking a few minutes to just sit down and be still during the day.

Even when we sit still, we often have our phones in front of us, reading something, scouring the Facebook news feed, examining pictures on Instagram. Our brains never get a chance throughout the day to rest and to wander, and to think about things that (oftentimes) are things really worth thinking about.

But our Creator never intended for our lives to be so full to the brim that they’re a mess. We see sitting still as negative space, in the negative sense — as time poorly used, time not devoted to doing.

While negative space in a photograph often gives a greater understanding of the subject, negative space in our lives often gives us a greater understanding of life itself.

Do you sit still and take stock of how things are going? For example, how is your marriage? The best way to stay in love is to never fall out of it. How are things going for your children? Are you staying connected with them each day? Paying attention to anything concerning, handing out praise and encouragement when you can?

The things that really need our efforts, like focused time on marriage-building or parenting, seldom appear on our to-do lists.

When we sit still and give time to just breathing, just thinking, we say to God “I trust that You are in control and not me. I trust that I don’t have to work a ridiculous number of hours without resting. My provision comes from you.”

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” {Ps. 46:10}

Are you filling your life so full there’s no time for breathing, for thinking, for just being? The most wonderful things often happen in that negative space – the time you never planned to do anything with.

Absolutely make active, focused time with your Creator a high priority on your to-do list — that is positive space and positive time well spent. But also allow time in your day (or at least your week) where you aren’t doing, even doing prayer. Where the Lord can meet you in your thoughts at a moment’s notice, or you can begin to work out in your mind some of the very important things that perhaps ought to be prioritized but aren’t.

The best creativity comes from a rested brain. The most focused people are often the ones who make sure they have unfocused time.

In the Lord’s glorious goodness, He gave us these brains that allow us to connect with Him in our thoughts and in reading His Word and in prayer. He also gave us these brains for reasoning and good decision making and gaining wisdom that will help keep us on the right path for the days that we have on this Earth.

We cannot afford to get stuck in the rut of always doing, never thinking.


It’s a bit ironic, and a bit unexpected, that sometimes when we are sitting still, we move in the direction of getting the most important things accomplished.