Holding Space in Relationship…

What does it mean to hold space for another person?

Berkeley & Helen Smith 1937
Berkeley & Helen Smith 2000

Truly, this is perceived in different ways. But some facets in all these perceptions seem to use tools to meld or laser focus Light in the discerning heart.

One current way of holding space, is described by Heather Plett of “Enlightened Consciousness” to be walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. To open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.

Put another way, holding space is in what First Corinthians 13 says so clearly…  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always hopes, always perseveres.”

The discerning heart will tell you how to use these perceptions.  The couple in the above picture that persevered in life are my parents. After the Great Depression, they held space in their own way while married for 72 years and built a life together in not ideal circumstances.

They grew together in a challenging multi-generational family, lived through family separations and divorce of past generations, survived more than three wars and life -threatening and debilitating illnesses, raised two children, moved, made job changes. All the while, they maintained responsible relationships in work and at home. Watching each penny that they spent, they loved each other through these and countless other difficulties.

Was their relationship perfect? No, not really. But they never gave up on each other enjoyed moments present to each other. Did they disagree? Yes. But I remember no violence or arguing in front of us. Dad and Mom patiently, but not perfectly, worked together and they always came back to loving and forgiving each other.

In this give-and-take of life, they honored their union and respected each other enough to remain there. They held space for each other and for us.

So, is there one perfect way of holding space in a relationship? We each have our own stories of individuals whom we feel have held space for us or not held space as the case might be.

Personally, I am still learning how to hold space, not by doing exactly everything my parents did, because their lives were configured by God differently than mine. But they and others continue to guide me, as I do my imperfect best to pray, read and live the Scriptures for example in Corinthians, Galatians and Colossians. Not just memorize verses…but to see life through them using the discerning lens of my heart.

I believe God doesn’t keep count of mistakes we make as we walk a life journey committed to Him. If we are truly present in life, we can perceive how Jesus continues to be Love in everything we experience …In this manner, the Spirit guides us. Holding us, He shares His very life.

The challenge I give you is this. While give yourself some grace along the way, start this process for a week.

1) Read to discern a tool, a gem, in a few verses of Scripture each day…perhaps in Colossians 3 or Corinthians 13 or Galatians 5.

 2) Try to laser focus, by maintaining a space of time to use that gem with another person/creature and be kind (as an example), no matter what the rough exterior. What reactions, if any, do you see in yourself or the other being?

3) Perhaps choose to jot down your thoughts as you walk through this process. Quite possibly you and I may not have 72 years in any relationship. Time doesn’t matter. Take care of the other as Jesus does you. Now. Today. Love.

© 2021 Bonnie Smith-Davis

Author: Awakening Light

I give all Glory to God Who allows me to see the world through the inner lens of Love deep within my heart. I am constantly growing and transforming to share my faith from a Christian contemplative perspective. The Holy Spirit works in and through me. I am a conduit of God's Love.

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