Holding Space

December 3, 2014


I spent time this morning with a woman whose wisdom and compassion have made her a cherished friend, and it was like bringing a fuzzy picture into focus, a scene that you know to be beautiful but that you can’t quite capture when you look through the only lens you currently see.

The idea came up of ‘holding space’ for someone you know is hurting or angry or just needs to get from where he is in his own energy and experience to where his body and spirit need to be.  It doesn’t involve words, and the person for whom you are holding space doesn’t necessarily know anything about what you are doing; but on quantum physics / radio wave levels, it can work wonders.

This friend I was with today knows hard, both from personal experience and from personally walking it with other people.  She hurts and loves and gives of herself to help people.  And she knows Jesus as the Great Physician as well as the Great Intercessor; she understands viscerally how those are connected.

We talked within that framework.  December can be hard for me in ways I wish it weren’t, ways I often push back.  In the same month we celebrate the birth of the Babe who brings life and hope to the world and have all the attendant family experiences and traditions and love and laughter, we remember our little baby Amelia who was born on December 19 and went Home just four and a half years later.

She would be 11 this year.

Sometimes missing her is harder than others.  December and April tend to be the harders.

I cannot wish her back because that would be wishing her away from Jesus in Paradise, and that’s unthinkable to me.

But I miss her
and the tears come
and the lump in the throat comes back
and I want to talk about it all
in the exact same moment that I don’t want to have to explain anything
and I appreciate the love
and the remembrances
and the prayers
and the notes
from those who knew Amelia then or who know about her now
more than anyone can possibly realize
because the worst thing would be for her to be forgotten by even one single person
but I get that most people don’t get any of it
because there’s no reason for them to understand
why all the emotions surrounding all this are just one big run-on sentence.

My heart in December is just one. big. run-on. sentence.

And I know there is not one single thing I can do about that, and I don’t even know what I would want to do if I could; it just is and I’ll survive because there are big hurts but Jesus is bigger than all of them and He is the only way I still have joy and laughter and love and peace, yes peace, even on the run-on sentence days.

So my friend and I talked about this holding neutral space for someone.  We weren’t actually talking about me or Amelia or anything; we were talking about it in relation to someone I love with all my heart who is hurting in every way someone can hurt physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally – and ways I want to help him.  But my mind brought an image of Jesus with the greatest expression of all-knowing love on His face and His arms outstretched as He sat on the edge of a chair just waiting for me to come to Him.  I was talking and thinking about someone else, and He was there waiting for me.

Jesus … holding space for me.

Portraits and stories that have portrayed Jesus in some namby-pamby way, some Jesus meek and mild, have done a great disservice to how all of us understand Him.  This Man, this God Incarnate who was with God at the foundations of the world when God created everything that is, He cannot be namby-pamby and be God.

There is nothing weak about God.

He is strong in His peace.
Strong in His kindness.
Strong enough that He can allow Himself to be gentle and loving and merciful.
Jesus was and is and ever more will be God the Son, a part of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit).

When in Matthew 11:29 Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest,” He’s telling us right there that He’s holding space for us.  

Space to sit at His knees.
Space to kneel in front of Him and rest our heads on His knees and feel Him stroking our hair or feel His hands and arms on our shoulders while we quietly weep because we carry things we don’t let other people see.

But His eyes and His heart are all-knowing and we should let Him see all that we have:  the so-called good, the so-called bad, the so-called ugly … because the ugliness that we are willing to share with Him?  There is beauty that rises up from ashes that only He can redeem.  We have hope because we have Him.  He holds space for us.  It is holy space; it is sanctified space.

He said that in Matthew and echoed the words of God the Father spoke through the psalmist in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

They are the same words, spoken by the same God.  And this day when we feel that movement in our hearts, in our being, it is because the third part of the Trinity – God the Holy Spirit – is whispering that to us even still.

If we are willing to turn off all the noise
and just sit …
if we’re willing to experience God the Son …
there, waiting for us to go to Him,
waiting for us to open to the door when He knocks,
waiting for us to allow ourselves to be found by the One who is always seeking us …
then we can find that we are in. this. space. that He is holding.

It is sacred.
It is beautiful.
And we can exhale.

Even without a word, the way Jesus holds space for us changes everything.

Merry Christmas, and Godspeed.


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