It can be difficult to recognize ways we can grow in our faith, especially if they seem like small or insignificant changes. Yet these small changes can sometimes make a world of difference within our spiritual lives, like making time to pray and be with the Lord in what I like to call the “empty space” of our lives. These “empty space” moments occur during the slow times of our daily lives when there isn’t really a lot going on, and as such they can be different for everyone.
For me, I tend to find myself in an “empty space” moment when I’m driving, especially when I’m driving by myself to familiar locations in areas that I know pretty well. Yet it took me a long time and a significant amount of frustration to realize this. Now I know that I get frustrated pretty easily when I’m driving alone, and that I don’t like feeling frustrated – which, paradoxically, only frustrates me further – but I didn’t realize the extent of this until a month ago during a late trip to the airport.
My mom was scheduled to arrive off of a flight from Boston at 11:20 PM. Since the airport is roughly 30 minutes away from my apartment, I decided to leave at 11:10 so I could give my mom time to get off the plane and find her luggage. That way I could just pick her up around 11:40 and then make the hour and a half trek back home since my brother was graduating the next day. Everything had been going fine on this drive until I reached the exit for the airport terminal, where traffic had slowed to a crawl. There was a surprising amount of people picking other people up from the airport at this time of night, certainly more than in any previous experience I’ve had.
So I sat there in the airport traffic, inching my way forwards for 20 minutes before I finally got to the terminal, only to find out that my mom’s flight arrived late and had only just landed when I got to the terminal around midnight. I was exhausted, and dreaded the prospect of having to loop around and sit through that traffic again, but alas, the people monitoring airport traffic waved me onwards and I had to loop around. Twice. I wanted nothing more than to be able to go home and go to bed, but I couldn’t because I still had to sit through traffic to pick up my mom. I was audibly groaning when I had to make the second loop, but it was around this time that I realized I didn’t have to be frustrated. Yes, I was in a frustrating situation, but I didn’t have to feel that way.
Rather than just feeling frustrated and further aggravating myself, I could take this time out to thank God for my mom arriving safe, thank Him for the community and opportunities that He’s placed in my life, and to ask for an increase in patience and to keep us safe on the ride home. I could turn this frustrating situation into a time of prayer and thanksgiving, and I could also turn some of my future car rides into informal praise and worship sessions, rather than just listening to the same songs I always jam out to when I’m in the car. After this realization and a little bit of prayer, I finally picked up my mom at around 12:20 in much better spirits than I was when I was waiting for her, despite my exhaustion and despite it being almost a full hour later than when her flight was supposed to arrive.
This is just one of my “empty space” moments that I’ve recognized I could invite God into, and I’ve noticed that I haven’t been getting as easily frustrated while driving alone since this realization. Granted, this is still pretty recent and I still have a long ways to go, but I know that as long as I continue to invite God into these little moments that I will find myself a little more patient and a little more peaceful. I also know that I still have “empty space” moments that I need to recognize and that I need to invite the Lord into, and periods of reflection definitely help with that.
I encourage you to reflect upon and recognize the “empty space” moments that are in your life and that you can invite the Lord into. Then when those moments come up, just start with a prayer. It doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, it can be as simple as asking God to fill this time with His presence; for no space can ever be empty when it is filled with the presence of God.