Remember those high school dances? Friday night after-the-football-game hops when the DJ played a slow song like Knights in White Satin and you got up the courage to ask that special someone if they’d like to dance? As your sweaty bodies swayed back and forth, you were just about to plant a kiss on that special someone’s moist lips—and then (if you went to a Catholic high school like I did) Sister Katrina tapped you on the shoulder and whispered, “Make room for Jesus!”
Her words sabotaged my teenage intentions. But as I’ve matured, I realized she was teaching an important piece of wisdom—creating space for God gives us balance and direction. Leaving room for the Creator connects us with the One whose greatest desire is for us to be happy.
It sounds simple—creating space for God—but life throttles into high gear as we get married, raise a family, and pursue demanding careers. Creating space for God falls off our priority list. And inner peace gets drowned out by daily stress.
A friend recently returned from a 30-day hiking adventure. His backpack was his sole possession on the trail. As he hiked, the pack’s straps pulled back his shoulders with ease. “My chest opened,” he said. “My heart felt free. Spacious. I had a sense God was present within me. For the first time in a long time, I felt peace.”
When my friend returned home, his joyful hikes with God were quickly replaced by the stressful pressure of the workplace. Refusing to let the stress monster overtake him, he integrated what he learned on the trail into a daily practice.
Now, during the work day when he feels anxiety building, when he observes his heart closing to protect himself, or when he notices his shoulders slumping over with the weight of responsibility, he takes a few moments to remember his backpack and the sense of God’s presence he felt on the trail. Pulling back his shoulders, he takes a few deep breaths and creates space for God.
“This simple practice,” he says, “lowers my blood pressure. It allows me to become creative. Somehow the answers to work problems seem to magically appear. It’s like plugging into Divine Guidance. This spiritual stuff works!”
As he shared his experience, I got to thinking about the perfect balance of the cross and how by opening his heart and creating space for God, my friend was connecting the human part of himself (the horizontal plank of the cross) with the Divine part of God (the vertical plank). And at the intersection of the cross’ two wooden beams there’s love—the perfect union of our human hearts with God’s Divine Spirit.
Perhaps creating space for God is as simple as developing a practice like my friend’s that allows us to slow down, connect with our bodies, breathe deeply, and open our hearts to the Presence of God. Maybe drawing our awareness to God’s presence in a busy work day is key to reducing anxiety and finding wholeness.
The next time you feel stressed, notice your body’s posture. Take a few moments to pull back your shoulders, take in a few deep breaths, and create space for God. See if Sister Katrina was right—making room for Jesus gives us balance. Direction. Inner Peace.
—brian j plachta