Saving Space for Others


Somedays, some moments, some weeks I just don’t have a lot of hope. My mood can feel low. I lose the ability to communicate effectively and all I want to do is cry and be told it’s okay-it’s okay to unravel, it’s okay to fall apart, you’re still good, you’re still valued, you’re still wanted, and your grief makes sense. I can’t recall many who hold space for me like that-a safe place to enter into when I am able and ready; a place that’s available and willing to wait for me and to be a part of the process of this grief.

“I can see that you’re having a really difficult day and I just want you to know that I am holding this space for you. I’m here for you in whatever capacity you need me.”

I have learned a lot the last couple of years, about joy, and hope, and family, about loss, grief, suffering, and pain. The nature of being human means that we will make mistakes, we will hurt one another, even scar the same people we love. We are going to disagree with others, probably shame them at some points, judge and critique them in ways that steal their joy, their hope. I have done it. I’ve had it done to me. We will see and experience all heights and depths of joy and suffering.

  It’s hard work to get along. It’s harder work to bear with one another. It’s the greatest work in learning how to love one another. 

I’ve spent many months this last year waking up in the morning in tears, my stomach turned in knots, feeling sick from being unable to bring about peace and restoration in some relationships that I would like to. It’s a terrible, terrible, terrible feeling of loss and grief. Most people have their ideas of what you “should” do or what you “should” say in those situations. But I haven’t done much. Because I don’t know what to do. And I haven’t said much. Because I’ve been learning to listen. Listening to others puts out a fire. Defending myself causes the fire to rage. 

So I do what I think I need to. I send letters and emails. I say, “hey I was thinking of you and wanted to let you know.” I remind them that I haven’t forgotten them, that I still see them, and I still care. I find little ways to say, “I haven’t given up hope”. And I’ve found some peace. 

I have been called naive at times. I’ve been told that I should just let go and move on, but I can’t. There’s a stirring inside me that just keeps telling me to hold tight and to hold space for others. To have hope. To believe in God to bring about restoration and until then, to hold space for others, to give others a place to unravel and be a mess, as they are working out what God has for them, and to be available when they are ready, when we are ready. 

I have a friend who has a “screw you” mindset. She’s lovely. Really she is. She’s kind and a giver. But if she feels slighted and hurt, it is not easy for her to address it. She doesn’t often openly say it, but in her mind she’s written people off, and in doing so, has hardened a bit of her heart. She knows she does it. And somedays I have wished I could be more like that, less tender, more angry. I have wished I could just say “screw you” and move on. But I can’t. I have too great a capacity for hope. 

Hope is hard. I don’t always feel hopeful. I have a deep pit inside me that feels like my world is being pulled out from under me and shaken up. Not much feels normal or known. But my hope, this hope that Jesus put inside me, sees things not as they are, but how they can be. 

And it’s to that end I save space for other people. It’s to that end that I am learning to live in the angst of unsettled relationship struggles because I believe it can really be something beautiful eventually. And that kind of hope is a hope worth fighting for, even if naive. Five Minute Friday: HOPE

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