This week at church a few of us were motivated to clear out a lot of clutter and organize a few corners of the church. My office and the main office have been rearranged and organized. The light up nativity set has been put in long term storage, freeing up space for things we might use more often. Some chairs got stored in a more efficient way, making the hallway and other spaces in the church more accessible.
To be clear, this was NOT just busy work for the sake of doing it. We did it because it will make us more efficient, be able to serve each other better and ultimately be safer and more comfortable in our space here at the church.
But “Making Space” isn’t just about the physical spaces. It’s about not over-working ourselves, giving ourselves some space for rest that we all need, whether we want to admit it or not. We have such a habit of busyness in our culture. We have to be constantly busy, constantly awake, constantly involved and its exhausting. Remember, many times Jesus gave himself space when he was tired or needed to pray. “He went off by himself…” or some other phrasing, is actually fairly common in the Gospels when talking about Jesus. Jesus tried his best to have good self-care throughout his ministry. Probably better than a lot of us.
We also need to learn how to “make space” for others, and I think this can be a little complicated. We need to let people have their own space, to think, to speak, to have their own opinions. To avoid that nagging idea that we know how someone else is feeling. That’s wrong, we don’t. Even if someone’s circumstances are identical to ours, say in losing a spouse, how we deal with it, what the relationship was like, on top of a myriad of other variables, make any situation so different from another that we truly do NOT know how they are feeling, at least not in any specific way. We can never truly step in someone’s shoes. We can be compassionate about their situation to a degree but in the end, all we can do is to give that person space. One of the most hurtful things we can do is to assume how others feel. If we aren’t a person of color, or someone who grew up disabled, or has a different sexual orientation, or sexual identity, or was an addict or...or…or… we don’t know what it is like to be them. Period.
So, they make space for themselves and we don’t take away that space by assuming anything about them. Instead we learn about who they are and what they are passionate about as individuals.
See, “making space”, whether it is about moving furniture in the office to be more efficient, making space for ourselves to grow, to learn, to rest, or making space for others to be exactly as God intended them to be is more about prioritizing our lives for the things that matter most. To live our best possible selves and to allow those around us to be the best they can be too.
Maybe “making space” for you is setting aside a small amount of time every day or every week to pray, or do a favorite hobby, or to take a Sunday afternoon nap. Maybe “making space” is literally making a space for you to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea where you can watch the hummingbirds. Maybe “making space” is finally getting around to that special vacation spot, or learning a new skill or spending time with that old friend you miss. Maybe “making space” is teaching yourself to talk less and listen more to others around you and to God. Maybe “making space” simply means stopping and thanking God for all the blessings in our lives, even when life gets tough. “Making space” means we work harder to follow the commandments to love God, love others and love ourselves a little better every day. To prioritize our lives around love.
This month, spend some time making space for yourself, for those around you and for God. God bless you all.